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Don’t Drive Tired this Holiday Season

"Please see the below media release about the dangers of driving fatigued this holiday season, and ways to avoid and manage fatigue.

Attached is an article covering other Summer driving hazards and encouraging drivers to drive to the conditions.

19 December 2007

Don’t Drive Tired this Holiday Season

Drivers on holiday are more likely to crash so they need to take extra care when travelling this summer, said ACC’s Road Programme Manager, Judy Buchanan.

“January tends to be one of the deadliest months on our roads as many New Zealanders travel long distances on their holidays,” Ms Buchanan said. “While speed and alcohol are common factors in crashes, fatigue is also a contributor.”

In fact, fatigue was thought to have been a factor in crashes that led to 41 road deaths and almost 1,000 injuries in 2006. Tiredness and fatigue affect your driving ability long before you ‘nod off’ at the wheel.

“It’s not a good idea to jump in the car after working all day and drive for several hours. Nor is it advisable to start a long drive very, very early in the morning – at these times your body is tired and your reactions are slower,” Ms Buchanan said.

“If you are showing signs of fatigue, swap drivers or stop for a break, or best of all have a power nap. Don’t be in a rush to get to your destination. Your best chance of getting there safely is to rest well before a trip, wear your seatbelt, slow down, and never drink and drive.

“ACC staff are running Driver Reviver Stops on many of the main routes during the holidays, along with other local road safety groups. So stop at one and take advantage of the free refreshments as you learn more about the signs of fatigue and how to manage it.”

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Signs of Fatigue
* Struggling to keep your eyes open, blinking lots or blurry vision
* Yawning a lot, restlessness, or cramp
* Lapses in concentration, not seeing road signs or day dreaming
* Slowing down or speeding up without realising you’d done it
* Wandering in your lane towards the centre line or the road edge

Benefits of a Power Nap
* Improve motor skills
* Boost energy levels
* Increase alertness
* Improve memory
* Improve mood and lower stress

Research has shown that going without sleep for 17 hours has the same effect on your driving ability as a blood alcohol level of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, not far under the legal driving limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

“If you close your eyes for two seconds while driving at 100 km/hr, your car will have travelled 54 metres which is over half the length of a rugby field,” Judy Buchanan said. “A lot can happen in that time to cause an accident.”

“Stop driving every two hours and get out of the car for a break, but don’t eat high-fat food – it can make you sleepy – eat fruit instead. Caffeinated drinks may work initially, but actually slow down your reactions while driving.”

ACC's website, www.acc.co.nz has more on fatigue in its Injury Prevention area, as does Land Transport New Zealand's, www.landtransport.govt.nz.


Drive to the conditions this summer

Summer’s here, and many of us will be jumping in our cars to go on holiday, or just to the beach for a day in the sun.

But before you get behind the wheel, remember that summer comes with its own unique driving hazards.

To ensure you return from the beach or holiday in one piece it’s worth thinking about the conditions you’re likely to come across on the roads this summer - and how you can adjust your driving to accommodate them. Stay alert to what other drivers are doing, distractions in your car or outside, and changing conditions.

Please be patient

During summer, the roads can become very busy with holiday traffic, so please be patient. If you’re stuck in a queue or behind a truck or campervan, relax and take it easy. Don’t try to overtake until it’s safe to do so. And if you’re holding up traffic behind you, do the decent thing and pull over to let vehicles go past.

The speed limit is not a target

Just because the speed limit is 100km in an area, it doesn’t mean that’s the safe speed to drive.

Crash statistics show New Zealand drivers don’t always slow down when conditions change. Wet weather, road works, high winds, sun strike, lots of pedestrians and heavy traffic are all summer challenges you need to respond to when driving – usually by slowing down.

We recommend drivers consider reducing their speed to below the speed limit for the following conditions:
- Road works
- Bad weather, including showers or heavy rain
- Heavy traffic that is starting and stopping
- When there’s a danger of sunstrike
- Pedestrians and cars moving round beaches, camps or shopping centres
- Children cycling on the road, or playing near the road

The key is choosing the right speed for the conditions. If all drivers adapt their speed to suit the conditions then we will see fewer and less severe crashes.

Remember - weight affects handling

Our cars often get loaded up with people and gear at holiday time. Just be aware that extra weight can affect how your car handles, especially around corners. The heavier your vehicle is, the longer it will take to stop, too, so allow for this when braking. Be extra cautious if using a roof-rack or towing a trailer or caravan.

Watch out for sun strike

The sun striking your windscreen just after sunrise and before sundown can temporarily dazzle you. Take care when driving at these times, and clean your windscreen regularly - especially if you’ve been travelling on gravel or dusty roads. Keep your windscreen squirter full, and give all the car windows a good scrub when you stop for petrol.

Get a pre-holiday season vehicle check

Make sure your car is in good condition for a long holiday trip. In particular, check things like tyre tread and pressure, brakes and the car’s cooling system. Many garages offer summer safety checks, so why not book in for one before you go on holiday?


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