Get there in one piece!

By admin
26 December 2014

As driver tiredness is a major cause of car accidents, South Africans travelling to holiday destinations by car are urged to get at least seven hours of sleep.

South Africa's road death toll over December is of the highest in the world. Yet there are many ways to be safer before a trip. Driver fatigue is one of the many reasons for the high accident rate and South Africans travelling to holiday destinations by car are urged to get at least seven hours of sleep.

Getting at least seven hours sleep is crucial if you're going to take a long trip. A study conducted this year found that 20% of car accidents are caused by fatigue. Previous estimates attributed fatigue to only 2 to 3% of accidents. The researchers observed eye-lid closure, head bobbing and micro-sleep (when the eyes drift shut and then pop open again). Surprisingly, the study revealed that 18- to 20-year-olds account for most fatigue-related accidents. However, older drivers can also succumb to sleepiness on the road due to late nights and early morning starts.

'20% of car accidents are caused by fatigue'

The evidence also suggested that as many as 60% of truck accidents may be due to driver tiredness.

Over the 2012 festive season, driver fatigue was identified as one of the top causes of road accidents, which prompted the Western Cape Traffic authority to implement its “fatigue management programme”. This meant that traffic officers could pull over motorists to force drivers to rest if they appeared fatigued.

Even though fatigue is typically associated with long-distance driving, fatigue can set in after a long day at work or a late night out. Emotional stress, boredom, illness and sun glare can also cause fatigue.

Keeping the evidence in mind, motorists are urged to get at least seven hours of sleep before a long-distance trip and to avoid travelling during their body’s downtime, which for most people is between 2am and 6am.

Preventing fatigue on the road:

  • Get at least seven hours of quality sleep before you leave on your journey.
  • Wear good quality sunglasses.
  • Eat a decent meal before you head out. Something nutritious and energising.
  • If driving long distance, plan your trip to incorporate a 20-minute break every two hours. There are plenty of petrol station rest stops along the major routes.
  • Do some walking during your break.
  • Stay hydrated during your journey.
  • Share the driving with another responsible driver.
  • Try to avoid driving when you would normally be asleep.
  • Do not consume alcohol before or during your drive.

Do not stubbornly stay awake and alert through sheer determination. If you are fatigued, you should not be behind the wheel of a car.

-Faiza Mallick

Extra info: Budget Insurance

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