Be awake to dangers of fatigue

I AM reminding WA young road users that they are more at risk of a fatigue-related road crash than they may realise.

This may be due to lifestyle, work and study commitments or simply not knowing the signs of fatigue.

Fatigue slows your reaction time and decision-making process, resulting in slow control movements, decreased tolerance for other road users, poor lane keeping and speed monitoring as well as decreased alertness.

My advice is that if you’re feeling as though your thoughts are wandering, you’re missing gears or a road sign or forgetting the last song on the radio, even yawning and blinking more than usual, you probably are in a dangerous state of fatigue.

Research out of Sydney’s George Institute examining fatigue and road crashes involving young drivers aged 17 to 24 showed a link between road crashes and drivers having less than six hours sleep.

Moreover, sleeping less on weekends puts young drivers at greater risk of having a car crash at night, as well as having an increased chance of run-off-road crashes.

The tragedy of fatigue is that you may drift in and out of sleep without knowing it.

Experts call this a microsleep, which lasts between three to five seconds.

It could lead to vehicles running off the road or drivers losing control after swerving, often more dangerous as you may not have a chance to brake.

Improvements for young drivers such as graduated licence systems, a 0.00 blood alcohol concentration for novice and provisional drivers as well as night restrictions have all been shown to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes.

Consuming energy drinks or coffee only offers short-term solutions and while it may seem hard to give up some commitments as a young driver, I would ask that you consider the importance of your safety, and the safety of others, when you take to the road.