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Driver Fatigue Remains A Killer Issue On NZ's Roads This Labour Weekend

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

23 October 2008 - Driver fatigue may have contributed to more than 30 deaths on New Zealand's roads so far this year says ACC, so the organisation is reminding anyone motoring off for the long weekend to be alert to fatigue.

To date 278 people have been killed on our roads in 2008. Figures from 2007 show fatigue was a factor in 13% of all crashes. On that basis fatigue may have been a contributing factor in an estimated 36 road deaths so far this year.

``Because driving tired can be as dangerous as driving drunk, fatigue is a very real risk on our roads. But it can be avoided - especially with some forward planning that means drivers are well-rested and have plenty of time to take breaks,'' said Ray Campbell, ACC's manager of public safety programmes.

``Labour Weekend is only three days so many people may travel for only two or three hours and may think that means they're not at risk of driver fatigue. But fatigue crashes can happen on even short journeys. Drivers still need to plan ahead and be alert to signs they're getting tired.''

ACC recently surveyed New Zealanders' attitudes towards driver fatigue and found that most people (78%) considered it to be a road safety issue. ``It's great that New Zealanders are aware that fatigue is a problem on the road, but we all need to remember the main ways to keep driver fatigue at bay,'' Mr Campbell said.

ACC's five top tips to fight fatigue are:

1. Plan ahead: Have a good sleep the night before you drive and think about where you're going to break up your journey. Allow time to stop every two hours. 2. Limit your driving time: Try to drive a maximum of six hours a day. 3. Be alert for early warning signs of fatigue: Yawning, slow reactions, tired/sore eyes, or missing road signs mean you're getting tired. 4. Take a power nap: If you feel tired and can't swap drivers, stop and have a 20 minute power nap to boost energy and concentration levels. 5. Eat well and stay hydrated: Eat fruit and healthy snacks, not fatty and sugary foods that contribute to fatigue. Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated and alert - not coffee!

``Having caffeinated drinks, playing loud music or winding the window down will only provide short term relief if you feel tired," Mr Campbell said. "You'll be safer if you have a break every couple of hours, or even a 20 minute power nap, rather than just keeping on driving. ACC will be helping out at driver fatigue stops round the country this weekend, so if you see one, pull over, take a break and learn more about this deadly issue.''

Last Labour Weekend there were 100 reported crashes, with four deaths and 145 people injured. So far this year the road toll is tracking lower than in 2007 - 278 compared to 319 at the same time last year.

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