AMI Insurance is warning drivers to be extra vigilant on the roads this weekend, and also during the week following the longer Labour Day break.
In conjunction with IAG, the insurer looked at motor claims for 2013 and 2014 and found that more accidents occurred in the week following Labour Day than compared to any other week a month either side.
However, the data showed there was no significant increase in the number of road accidents that occurred on Labour Day itself.
AMI’s General Manager Customer Claims Ruth Colenso says although this suggests drivers are taking more care on the roads during the longer weekends, it’s important to stay vigilant for signs of fatigue.
“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,” Ruth said.
Statistics from Ministry of Transport showed that fatigue was a contributing factor in 31 fatal crashes, 106 serious injury crashes and 400 minor injury crashes*. Ruth said that taking a few common-sense steps could help keep drivers safe on the road.
Watch out for these signs of fatigue while driving, and if possible ask a passenger to keep an eye out too:
- 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
- change in driving speeds
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 a passenger and share the driving. Help each other watch out 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 breaks and stay safe on our roads.
* Fatigue Crash Facts 2015, available on transport.govt.nz