Fatigue is often ranked as a major factor in causing road crashes although its contribution to individual cases is hard to measure and is often not reported as a cause of crash. Driver fatigue is particularly dangerous because one of the symptoms is decreased ability to judge our own level of tiredness.
Fatigue is more likely to be a factor in crashes in rural areas as they can involve long trips and extensive periods of continuous driving, however anyone can be affected by fatigue.
If you don't get enough sleep you go in to sleep debt and you owe yourself more sleep. The only way to repay this debt is by sleeping. Until you catch up on your sleep, you will have a greater risk of having a fatigue related crash.
Research has shown that not sleeping for more than 17 hours has an effect on driving ability the same as a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.05. Not sleeping for 24 hours has the same effect of having a BAC of 0.10, double the legal limit.
There are a range of factors that can cause fatigue. The four main causes are:
Signs of fatigue include:
Most importantly if you feel tired, pull over and have a power nap, otherwise you may experience microsleeps which are dangerous while driving. Once you are fatigued the only cure is to stop and take a break.
On 29 September 2008 new nationally consistent laws regulating the working and driving hours of heavy vehicle drivers under the Road Traffic Act and Regulations were introduced.
The new laws consider the health and well-being of heavy vehicle drivers aiming to help drivers get home safely by requiring that all parties in the chain of responsibility take reasonable steps to prevent driver fatigue.
More information is available from the National Transport Commission website.
Offences under the new laws are classified according to the actual level of risk and the greater the risk involved, the more significant the penalties. Penalties will range from an infringement notice to court imposed penalties (maximum $50,000) and loss of demerit points.
The South Australian Government is developing a new strategy for the next ten years: South Australia’s Road Safety Strategy to 2031.
All remaining cars fitted with a critical defective Takata type airbag inflator will now be refused registration in South Australia from Monday, 10 August until they are rectified, to ensure the safety of all road users.
Motorists are advised of upcoming partial closures of the Heysen Tunnels to allow for essential safety maintenance works.
Works to improve ride quality will be undertaken on McIntyre Road between The Golden Way and Wright Road, commencing each night from 7pm, Tuesday, 18 February to 6am, Friday, 6 March, weather permitting.