Driver safety is important but few of us acknowledge driver fatigue as a risk to safety. But what is more worrying is that drivers refuse to acknowledge that fatigue poses a great threat to safety, as recent research has found.
Fatigue is one of the biggest killers on our roads and just as dangerous as drink driving. In 2011, Roads and Maritime Services recorded 3329 crashes as being fatigue-related – almost double the number of crashes involving alcohol.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) recently found that drivers will not stop to take a break, even when they feel too tired to drive and are likely to crash. UNSW researchers tested 90 drivers, and not one of them would take a break when confronted by fatigue.
Fatigue in road crashes can include various conditions – from inattention while driving to falling asleep at the wheel. Everyone has experienced fatigue at some time while driving in the form of drowsiness, sleepiness, tiredness, inattention or exhaustion.
What is important to note is that fatigue affects safety. Drivers need to be alert and focused in order to drive safely, especially for long periods. Fatigue greatly reduces our driving skills by slowing down our reaction times, reducing our ability to concentrate, and slowing down our ability to interpret and understand the situation around us.
Studies have shown that the effect of driving while sleep deprived is the equivalent of driving while intoxicated with alcohol.
Fatigue is a major cause of crashes resulting in serious injuries and fatalities each year. Crashes involving fatigued drivers commonly involve:
- difficulty in keeping the car within a lane
- drifting off the road
- frequent and unnecessary changes in speed
- slower reaction times to dangerous situations
Technologies such as the Mobileye constantly watches the road in front of you and can detect lanes, vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and speed signs.
It promptly alerts you when it detects that you are too close to the car in front of you, have drifted off your lane, or are driving over the detected speed limit sign.
If you find yourself yawning or drifting off while driving, always pull over and rest by taking a power nap. The best solution is to always ensure you have sufficient sleep for several nights prior to a long drive, to drive during the day and not during sleeping hours, not to drink any alcohol, and to share the driving if possible.