THE Transport Accident Commission has issued a pre-Easter plea to motorists to plan their holiday road trips as new research revealed one-in-10 country drivers regularly drive drowsy.
The TAC released the data this week as many Victorians prepare to hit the roads for their annual Easter break.
Drowsiness, a symptom of fatigue, is estimated to be a factor in 20 per cent of all Victorian road deaths, with drivers on country roads particularly at risk due to the fact that they are generally travelling at higher speeds and travelling longer distances.
TAC chief executive officer Janet Dore said it was concerning that 11 per cent of drivers in a statewide survey conducted late last year said they regularly drove while drowsy.
“The vast majority of Victorians are doing the right thing and these people shouldn’t have to worry about whether the driver of an oncoming vehicle is about to fall asleep,” Ms Dore said.
Ms Dore said it was crucial that drivers did not get behind the wheel without adequate sleep under their belts and were prepared to stop for a 15-minute powernap if they notice the signs of drowsiness setting in.
“Easter is just around the corner and that means a lot of people will be planning road trips.
“They need to ensure that plan includes rest stops and that they’re feeling refreshed when they set out and not driving when they would normally be asleep,” she said.
Ms Dore urged holiday motorists to familiarise themselves with the locations of the State Emergency Services’ 34 Driver Reviver sites before planning their trips away this Easter.
“Driver Reviver sites provide a great opportunity to get out of the car, refresh, stretch your legs and break up your trip over a cup of tea,” Ms Dore said.
Ms Dore said the TAC had recently updated its drowsy driving campaign to educate Victorians on the science of sleep.
Its central message is that from the moment you wake, sleep-inducing chemicals build up all day, causing drowsiness.
“If you’re feeling drowsy, that is a sign that sleep could set in at any moment and without further warning, regardless of whether you wind the window down, turn the music up or drink a coffee,” Ms Dore said.
“Put simply, you can’t fight sleep. Drowsiness is a chemical process, not a choice and the only way to overcome it is
A healthy adult needs, on average, seven to nine hours of sleep to function optimally.
Driving after 17 hours without sleep is the same as driving with a blood alcohol content of .05 and after 24 hours it is the same as driving at 0.10.