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AA/NZ Police warn against drowsy driving

13 December 2005

AA and NZ Police warn motorists to avoid drowsy driving

The AA and Police are warning motorists planning to travel over the Christmas/New Year period to avoid holiday ‘death marches’ – very long driving periods without rest.

Drowsy driving crashes are among the most deadly on the road because the driver is not awake to slow the car down. At best this means the car will hit something that slows it safely and wakes the driver, but at worst it can mean a high speed head-on smash. The best antidote to drowsy driving crashes is planning.

AA Motoring Affairs Manager Mike Noon says “motorists should plan to spend no more than eight to ten hours of solid driving, with substantial breaks every three or four hours. Don’t start driving long distances late at night and make sure you get a good eight hours sleep the night before. If your passengers fall asleep, stop. You could well be next. And it goes without saying, don’t drink, or take drugs and drive, or speed.”

Mr Noon says “some people may be tempted to save accommodation costs by setting themselves ambitious daily travel targets by compensating through speed or very long drive times. The risk simply isn’t worth it.”

“Demonstrating how far and how fast you can drive in a day is not heroic, it’s plain stupid. Heroes don’t put themselves, their family and every other driver on the road at risk,” Mr Noon says.

Police National Operations Manager, Inspector John Kelly, says “some drivers go to all the trouble of making sure their cars are safe for a long journey, but forget to look after themselves by not getting enough sleep the night before. The Police would rather not be attending any accidents over the Christmas break, and we certainly don’t want to be knocking on anyone’s door to tell them that loved ones they were expecting will not be making it.”

Inspector Kelly warns “there will be delays. Plan for them. Give yourself the time and if you do start running late, don’t fret about it. Just bear in mind there are far worse things than being late. Call ahead and take your time. Speed or inconsiderate driving will draw the Police’s attention and you’ll get an unnecessary expense in the form of a ticket, or worse you will end up in a crash.”

“We have to get over this competitive driving culture where we judge our progress against other vehicles on the road. The road isn’t a racetrack and it really doesn’t matter if you pull over and look at the scenery from time to time,” Inspector Kelly says.

Currently, New Zealand’s road toll is significantly down on last year’s. The AA and Police believe that if motorists take care this Christmas it may even be possible to achieve a record low. By taking extra care when planning their holidays, motorists can help themselves to achieve a safer and more relaxed driving environment.

ENDS

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