Road safety nightmare: Research finds a THIRD of drivers fall asleep behind the wheel with potentially catastrophic results
- More than one third of Aussie drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel
- The result was revealed in a study that showed tiredness is a major killer on roads
- Authorities classify nodding off for between one and 10 seconds as a microsleep
- The Budget Direct survey found 39.6 per cent of NSW drivers had nodded off
- Driving without sleeping for 17 hours is the same as a blood-alcohol level of 0.05
A new study has revealed more than one in three drivers on New South Wales roads are at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
The shocking findings were highlighted in a new survey by Budget Direct, which found that 39.6 per cent of drivers had admitted to nodding off while driving.
With tiredness being the second biggest killer on the state’s roads, police and road safety experts have urged motorists to take care in the lead up to the festive season.
NSW Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon told The Daily Telegraph driving without sleeping for 17 hours was the same as having a blood alcohol reading of 0.05.
The shocking findings were highlighted in a new survey by Budget Direct, which found that 39.6 per cent of drivers had admitted to nodding off while driving (stock)
‘We stopped talking about fatigue a few years ago and started talking about people being tired like shift workers and students because we know that a lot of crashes linked to tiredness happen on short trips,’ Mr Carlon said.
He said even sleeping for less than five hours a night for three nights in a row can have a major impact on your ability to drive safely on the road.
By the time you start blinking or ‘microsleeping’, it’s inevitable that you need to stop and rest and get some sleep, he said.
Health experts define a microsleep as a short, involuntary burst of sleep, usually noticed by someone when they jerk as they wake up.
They can last anywhere from one to 10 seconds, which means if you’re travelling at 100km/h, after 10 seconds, you’ve lost control of the car for up to 270 metres.
With tiredness being the second biggest killer on the state’s roads, police and road safety experts have urged motorists to take care in the lead up to the festive season (stock)
The study also highlighted how fatigued drivers on long stretches of roads are the most at vulnerable when it comes to having a microsleep due to increased speed.
High speeds, along with ‘blank stares, head snapping and prolonged eye closure’ can have an effect on the brain, which results in a trancelike state, the study found.
Mr Carlon said the best thing drivers can do to prevent themselves from falling asleep while driving is to stop and have a rest – but only for a while.
He said it’s great to stop and have a coffee or a nap for 20 minutes, but no longer – otherwise it will have the reverse effect and you’ll feel tired.
‘The caffeine kicks in at the end of the period and sparks your brain function after sleep,’ Mr Carlon said.
Highway Patrol Assistant Commissioner Julie Middlemiss told the publication driver fatigue can and does happen, and when it does the results can be catastrophic.
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