Friday July 29, 2011
On The Road
Dozing Drivers Causing Crashes
This long weekend get plenty of rest and get home safely
Released by ICBC
ith many in search of warm weather for the B.C. Day long weekend, it’s a popular time to load up the car and take a long road trip. Those many hours behind the wheel can be particularly draining on warm summer days and increase your risk of driver fatigue.
On average (2005 to 2009), fatigue is a contributing factor in 1,010 crashes, 690 injuries and 20 fatalities every year on B.C. roads, and very likely higher given how under-reported driver fatigue is and how hard it is to measure.
“We want every family that’s heading out on the road this long weekend – and throughout the summer – to enjoy their trip and return home safely,” said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “It’s important to drive responsibly and avoid distractions when you’re at the wheel but you also need to take breaks and recognize when you’re too tired to continue safely.”
Hot summer days and long drives are a dangerous combination, which often result in driver fatigue, which slows our reaction time, decreases our awareness and impairs our judgment – a dangerous combination of factors.
On average (2006 to 2010), there are 1,950 crashes, 540 injuries and three fatalities during the B.C. Day long weekend across the province.
“When most of us think of impaired driving we think of people who drink and drive, but anything that decreases your ability to judge the situation around you and to react appropriately is an impairment,” said Jill Blacklock, ICBC road safety manager.
“We don’t often realize the extent of our own fatigue,” said Blacklock. “But we’ve probably all driven when we’re tired and also heard of tragic crashes that have happened when someone falls asleep at the wheel.”
Here are ICBC’s top tips for avoiding driver fatigue:
Plan your journey: Get a good sleep the night before you leave on a long trip and know the route you’re going to take so you can plan to stop at rest points along the way. A good rule of thumb is to take a break from driving every two hours on long road trips and avoid driving during the night when you’d normally be asleep. Long weekends always mean more vehicles on the road so plan ahead by checking road and weather conditions on drivebc.com.
Know the signs: We don’t often sense the degree of our own fatigue behind the wheel so it’s important to know the warning signs:
you don’t notice a vehicle until it suddenly passes you;
you don’t recall driving the last few kilometres;
you’re yawning or daydreaming;
your driving speed creeps up or down;
you find yourself wandering into the next lane;
you have difficulty keeping your head up.
Take a break: Pull over as soon as you start to feel drowsy. Get out and walk around to get some fresh air. If that’s not enough, pull over to a safe stopping spot, turn off your car and take a nap. Winding down the window or turning the volume up on the radio are not effective strategies. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep – it’s better to arrive late than not at all.
Even a slight decrease in your reaction time behind the wheel can have a profound increase on your chance of crashing, particularly at high speeds on highways. Follow these tips and drive smart this summer.
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