Farmsafe WA Alliance - Founded by Farmers for Farmers

An independent not-for-profit, non-government organisation encouraging and leading the way to safer farming

Fatigue

Background

The importance of fatigue as a cause of crashes is almost certainly underestimated in crash investigations; this is because fatigue is not easily quantifiable.  Between the 1995 and 2004 0.9% of serious crashes in the metropolitan area and 3.6% in the rural areas were fatigue-related.   However most experts estimate that 20% to 30% of fatal road crashes could be result from driver fatigue.

Effects of fatigue

Fatigue causes several problems for drivers.  They are: slow reactions and decisions; slow control movements; decreased tolerance for other road users; poor lane tracking and maintenance of headway speed; and loss of situational awareness.  Research indicates that 17 to 19 hours of sustained wakefulness produced similar or worse levels of performance than a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05g/100mL.  While 20 to 25 hours of wakefulness produced performance levels similar to that seen with a BAC of 0.10g/100mL.

Signs of Fatigue

Between 1995 and 2004 men were more likely to be involved in a fatigue-related crash than women.  Men aged 17-29 are more likely than any other age and gender group to be involved as a driver or motorcycle rider in a fatigue-related crash.  Factors increasing a driver's risk for involvement in a sleep-related motor vehicle crash include: holding multiple jobs, working a night shift, averaging less than 6 hours sleep per night, poor overall quality of sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, frequent night time driving, use of soporific medications, driving after being awake for more than 15 hours, driving for longer time periods and driving after sleeping less than 5 hours the night before.

Strategies

Recent strategies undertaken by the Road Safety Council have concentrated on making people aware of the early signs of fatigue.  Most people are aware of the late physical signs of fatigue such as rubber necking, heading nodding and micro sleeps but are less aware of early physical signs such as blinking, tired eyes and yawning and mental signs such as forgetfulness and being in a daze.

Drive to survive

To drive to survive you should:

  • get plenty of sleep before you start your trip
  • plan ahead-work out rest stops and overnight stops before you start
  • avoid alcohol before and during your journey
  • check medications with your doctor and make sure they won't make you drowsy
  • eat sensibly-not too little, not too much
  • get plenty of fresh air-leave your window open or air-conditioning on
  • take regular breaks-you should stop for at least 15 minutes every two hours
  • share the driving
  • use rest areas, tourist spots and driver reviver stops whenever and wherever possible
  • stop and rest as soon as you feel tired
  • never drive for more than 10 hours in a single day.

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Farmsafe WA Alliance Founded twenty years ago, with the voluntary work of farmers and enthusiasm of other interested bodies.

 

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