DRIVER FATIGUE DEADLY
DRIVERS travelling long distances have been urged to plan their trips, take regular breaks and to avoid “micro sleeps” and mobile phone usage.
Roma Police Senior-Sergeant Scott Jackson said “the distracted driver” was one of the biggest dangers on the road however simple steps could reduce crashes and fatalities.
Sen-Sgt Jackson said while the region had experienced one extra fatality than at this time last year, there had been fewer traffic crashes.
“We’ve increased our awareness and increased our traffic controls.
“There’s been a police effort and a community effort.”
He said it was vital that people planned their trips “so they’re not just jumping in the car and going”.
If travelling for more than eight hours, drivers should plan a 10–15-minute break or swap drivers every two to three hours.
“Most traffic collisions occurs where fatigue is a factor and people have tried to drive too far.”
He said fatigue affected people in different ways and signs to notice included yawning and blinking or rubbing the eyes more frequently than normal.
Micro sleeps posed especially high risks, he said.
“If you’re travelling at 100km/h and close your eyes for two seconds, you cover half a football field.
“And if you get a text message and you look down for two seconds, take two seconds to read your message and two seconds to look back up, that’s six seconds … and a lot can go wrong in that distance.
“We find most of our accidents are occurring where a distracted driver has put the passenger tyres off the bitumen and has over-corrected, then – while trying to get the vehicle back on the road – has gone down a causeway or caused the vehicle to skid off the road.
“You can also veer onto the wrong side of the road and then it’s too late.”
Sen-Sgt Jackson said drivers should avoid staying up late the night before a long trip and younger drivers particularly should be strict about two-hourly breaks.
“Even if they pull up in a parking bay and stretch their legs and have a drink of water, or have a snooze for 15 minutes to break up the monotony.
“Don’t drive distracted – many families are putting mobile phones in handbags and boots so they’re not distracted. Or, have someone else answer the phone and get them to ring you back.”
In the state’s western regions, Sen-Sgt Jackson said the mobile phone message was being conveyed however visitors travelling through rural areas were often checking their phones constantly for reception signals and messages coming through.
“Drink driving is slowly, slowly reducing – everyone’s got the picture – and that’s taken a long time.”
He said holiday-makers should also be aware the extra weight in their cars of with camping gear could change “how the car handles”.
Speeding in the area has been reduced with 60–70 per cent of notices written for speeds of between 0–13km above the limit but there’s “a small band” of 1 in 20 drivers who may reach 30–40km/h above the speed limit.
Drivers also needed to take into account wet weather and locals should be aware that conditions for the same stretch of road or a certain bend could be different in varying weather.
“Pay attention before you leave and during the trip,” he said.
“Stay focussed on the roads.
“And change your driving to suit the circumstances,” Sen-Sgt Jackson said.
STAY SAFE: Police urge road users to take care on the road at all times of the year.