State Insurance is warning drivers planning a road trip this Easter weekend to beware of the dangers of fatigue while travelling long distances. Unpredictable weather during the autumn season can also cause road conditions to change quickly, another reason why drivers should take extra care while on the move.
“Enthusiasm for the great Kiwi holiday can sometimes mask tiredness and increase the risk of fatal mistakes being made by drivers on our highways and byways,” says Kevin Hughes, State’s General Manager for Customer Delivery. “This is a time of year to take more care, rather than less, in order to avoid a tragedy. Impatience coupled with fatigue can be a lethal mix.”
Fatigue can happen long before you fall asleep at the wheel. It can affect your reaction time, your ability to concentrate and your general understanding of the traffic around you. Plan your route ahead of time so you can map out your trip and work out the best places to stop along the way for frequent breaks.
“Many people are busy right up to the time they head off on their holidays, and some will be driving in situations they are less familiar with – for example in fully loaded cars, camper vans or towing trailers, caravans or boats,” Kevin says. “In such circumstances it’s far better to take your time and get to your destination, than to rush and not get there at all. Our biggest wish is for a safe and happy holiday for everyone.
Watch out for these signs of fatigue while driving:
- Feeling drowsy;
- Sore, heavy eyes, blurred or dim vision;
- Impatience, lack of concentration or slow reactions;
- Wandering over the centre-line or road edge;
- Droning or humming sound in your ears;
- Sweaty hands, hunger, thirst, stiffness or cramp;
- Poor gear changes; and
- Change in driving speeds.
Ask a passenger to help you look out for these signs too.
Tips to avoid driver fatigue:
- Get a good night’s sleep – eight hours the night before you go is preferable. Napping can help, but keep it to 20 minutes or so and make sure you’re fully awake before you set off again.
- Fresh air helps you stay awake – open the windows while driving.
- Rich, heavy meals and sugar make you tired. Pack some fruit and stick to light fresh food.
- Don’t go it alone. Take someone with you to help you stay alert and watch for signs of fatigue.
- Flying can make you tired. If possible, avoid driving for a few days following long-distance air travel.
- Avoid driving during the hours when you would normally be sleeping or napping.
- Don’t drink and drive. Even small amounts of alcohol will make fatigue much worse, especially if you’re already tired.
Pull over, take a break and stay safe on our roads.