Written by Home Doctor Team

What you can do to stay safe on the road this long weekend

driver fatigue

With the upcoming Labour Day public holiday, Queenslanders are already planning getaways to make the most of the long weekend – meaning many Australians will be hitting the road.

Of course, with trips away comes concern about traffic, congestion, and (most importantly) driver fatigue.

Driver fatigue is a major concern and drivers are being urged to take precautions before jumping behind the wheel.

How dangerous is driver fatigue?

The Queensland Government and Australian Federal Police (AFP) have recently released a statement labelling driver fatigue as one of the top five driving offences.

The complete list of offences include:  

  • Speeding;
  • Drink and drug driving;
  • Fatigue;
  • Not wearing seat belts;
  • Distraction (for example, mobile phones).

Following 2017, where Queensland saw 242 fatalities, police are taking serious action to ensure the roads remain safe – particularly during peak travel times.

The AFP have stated driver fatigue increases the chances of a vehicle crash more so when travelling long distances, without taking regular breaks or for those who don’t get adequate sleep prior to driving.

What can you do to prevent driver fatigue?

It’s important that when you notice the signs of fatigue you act on them. The key signs of fatigue include: yawning, blinking more frequently than normal, having trouble keeping your head up, losing focus, and momentarily closing your eyes.

People affected by driver fatigue can also suffer from impaired performance, slower reaction times, impaired judgement, and a higher probability of falling asleep behind the wheel.

Simple steps you can take to prevent fatigue include:

    • Plan your trip in advance;
    • Make sure to get plenty of sleep prior to a long drive;
    • Take regular breaks every two hours;
    • If possible, share the drive with others.

What are the facts I really need to know?

  • The risk is of driver fatigue is heightened when travelling alone, particularly when driving in rural areas between midnight and dawn.
  • According to RACQ, 15-30 per cent of road incidents are caused by drivers falling asleep behind the wheel (internationally, not just in Australia).
  • A study featured in the British Medical Journal discovered driving on five hours sleep or less can triple your chances of having an accident.
  • Queensland Transport believes fatigue is a major contributing factor to road crashes, so much so the exact number involving fatigue is likely to be under-reported.

Are there available rest areas?

As mentioned, it’s recommended to take regular breaks every two hours during long drives and to achieve this there are many rest areas across Queensland for drivers.

Known to many people are the Driver Reviver sites which have the added benefit of a van supplying free tea, coffee, and snacks for travellers at selected rest areas.

Driver revivers typically operate during peak travelling times including:

  • 30-31 March
  • 1-2, 13-16 and 25 April
  • 29-30 June
  • 1, 13-15 July
  • 21-23 September
  • 5-7 October
  • 14-16, 17-31, December
  • 25-28 January

For further information on Driver Reviver and its locations, visit www.tollgroup.com/driverreviver.

Where can I test myself?

Unsure whether you’re well rested enough for a long drive? Test how tired you might be on this link: www.testyourtiredself.com.au./

If you’re planning to travel this long weekend, remember to follow the listed precautions and drive carefully.