The holiday season typically brings with it much love, joy, and happiness. Spending quality time with family and friends and spending time away from work can be just the catalyst needed to unwind from a long year of hard work stress.
While there is no doubt Australian’s enjoy the festivities of the holiday season – long summer days, social occasions and trips to the beach – we must remain aware of the dangers that these times bring on the road.
According to a media release from the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, in the 12-day period around Christmas and New Year 2011/2012, 50 people lost their lives across the nation in road transport accidents . While factors such as speeding, alcohol intoxication and illegal manoeuvres are always front of mind when we hear of such accidents, there is another serious factor having a devastating effect on our holiday road toll – fatigue.
A Department of Transport and Main Roads review of Christmas and New Year (2009-2010) road toll showed that of the 60 road fatalities that occurred over the Christmas/New Year periods from 2005 to 2010, over 23 percent were fatigue-related.
If you further consider that in many cases people cannot effectively judge their level of fatigue impairment, and that the effects of fatigue can be compounded by activities such as driving, and alcohol intake, you have a particularly lethal contributor to road accidents.
So with these statistics in mind we ask you to please take extra care when on the roads this Christmas. Think about if you actually need to be driving. Think about if you are driving after a long work shift, especially shiftwork, driving through the night into the early hours of the morning, or have had less sleep than you normally require.
If any of these are true, consider alternative means such as public transport or a taxi. If these are not an option, try to rest or nap before a long trip. If you feel sleepy while driving, pull over and revive. Microsleeps are lethal and can occur to anybody. A four second micro sleep while driving at 100k an hour means you will travel the length of a football field while not in control of your car!
While these statistics may be morbid, they provide a sobering reminder of the necessity to consider the safety of yourself, your family and others.
Be mindful of fatigue and take care this holiday season.