These summer holidays will be the first time many of us have driven any distance since lockdown in August. We’re all keen to do a bit of travel to visit relatives in other towns or take the family to the bach. In our excitement to experience a change of scenery, we still must manage our driving hours. Scarily, driving tired can be as dangerous as driving when you are drunk.
In 2020, fatigue was a factor in 25 fatal crashes and 113 serious injury crashes, according to the Waka Kotahi, New Zealand Transport Agency.
Fatigue can lead to poor judgement, slower reaction time and impaired decision making. Fatigue is classified as mental and physical exhaustion.
To avoid the dangers of driving fatigued, here are our five tips to help you avoid driver fatigue this summer.
1. When planning a trip, add an hour
New Zealand terrain is diverse. Our roads are narrow, hilly, and windy. On google maps, it may look like a three-hour trip, but the bends and dips will add an extra hour.
2. Plan in your breaks – enjoy the country
Plan to stop every two hours for a break, especially if you are not used to driving long distances. Why not enjoy your drive by stopping for a coffee and to enjoy the scenery?
3. Don’t drive when you would be asleep
Don’t drive when your body is used to being asleep.
Break up your journey and start the next day rested. Our circadian rhythms programme our body to sleep between 3am and 5 am. Waka Kotahi noted peaks in fatigue related crashes occur between 3am and 5am.
4. Grab a power nap
If you are feeling tired, pull over and have a power nap.
Research suggests that the optimum length of a power nap is only 15-20 mins. Any longer and you will come out of it feeling groggy.
Here are some signs that it’s time to stop driving and rest.
- Sore or heavy eyes
- Delayed reactions
- Daydreaming and not being conscious of your driving
- The speed you drive at creeps up or down
- Becoming impatient or irritable
- Impaired driving performance such as poor gear changes
- Stiffness and cramps
- Loss of motivation
The best cure for driver fatigue is a good night’s sleep.
Working Wise wishes you a happy New Year and safe travels.
Driving for work?
Is driving an essential component of your business? Do you have a vehicle use or safe driving policy? If not, there’s a helpful sample available from ACC.