Po­lice warn drowsy driv­ers


IF YOU'RE driv­ing for more than two hours, stop; if you can’t re­mem­ber the last 5km you drove, stop.

That’s Bendigo High­way Pa­trol’s sim­ple ad­vice for drowsy driv­ers on our roads.

It’s just as dan­ger­ous and deadly as drunk and drug driv­ing. And just as avoid­able.

“Ev­ery­body is dif­fer­ent and has dif­fer­ent ideas of what be­ing tired is, but as a gen­eral rule more than two hours of driv­ing is un­safe,” Se­nior Sergeant Ian Brooks said.

“You get to that mark and it’s time to stop, get out, have a run around your car and just spend 15 min­utes on the side of the road parked a safe dis­tance away from traf­fic.

“But that doesn’t take away the need for sleep.”

It’s some­thing that the TAC agrees with. All day, sleep-inducing chem­i­cals build up in your brain and even­tu­ally reach a tip­ping point, send­ing you off to sleep. This can hap­pen any­time, any­where, it says.

Their ad­vice is to pull over for a 15-minute pow­er­nap.

Snr Sgt Brooks said driv­ing at times when you’re usu­ally asleep or rest­ing was a ma­jor risk fac­tor.

“A lot of peo­ple think it’ll be fine head­ing off after work for long week­ends but after work is usu­ally a time when your brain is rest­ing,” he said.

“If your mind is start­ing to wan­der, stop and get out of the car. Get out of the driver’s seat and away from the car for a while.

“I do a lot of long dis­tance driv­ing and I get out every two hours, there’s been some cold nights where I’ve been stand­ing out there but it helps.”

How­ever Snr Sgt Brooks said peo­ple weren’t lis­ten­ing to ad­vice, some­thing which could prove fatal.

“I hear of peo­ple who say a solid three or four hours isn’t that tough of a drive — that’s un­safe in my opin­ion,” he said.

“The sim­plest rule is if you can’t re­mem­ber the last 5km of road, any signs or land­marks you passed or bends, get out of the car, swap driv­ers or have a pow­er­nap.”

Snr Sgt Brooks said it’s of­ten tourists who are putting them­selves at risk. With wind­ing roads, hills and wildlife al­ready pos­ing enough of a risk, he said there’s no need for driv­ers to put them­selves and other road users in jeop­ardy.

“The Heath­cote area is about two hours from Mel­bourne so it is the best place for tourists to stop,” he said.

“If peo­ple from Mel­bourne are head­ing to places such as Echuca, that last hour on coun­try back roads — or even the North­ern Hwy — is the most dan­ger­ous for them.”

While he hasn’t no­ticed a high rate of col­li­sions, Snr Sgt Brooks said driv­ers at a lot of ac­ci­dents he has at­tended haven’t had an ex­cuse for leav­ing the road.

“Most peo­ple, ei­ther from em­bar­rass­ment or var­i­ous other rea­sons, won’t ad­mit they were tired when they got be­hind the wheel,” he said.

“Hit­ting the rum­ble strips is a sign of a mo­men­tary lapse of con­cen­tra­tion and a lot of new cars have lane de­par­ture warn­ings which flash and vi­brate the steer­ing wheel — th­ese are in­di­ca­tors you’re not pay­ing at­ten­tion to the road.”

He says there’s one sure-fire trick to avoid dis­as­ter.

“The 5km rule means you’re on au­topi­lot — turn­ing on the air con­di­tioner, putting the win­dows down and cof­fee are short-term fixes which won’t last,” he said.

“But again, the best thing to do is not get be­hind the wheel when you’re tired, it’s as sim­ple as that.”

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