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                                                         Fatigue is one of the leading factors
                                                         contributing to road crashes.

                                                         A driver who has been awake for 17 hours
                                                         has a driving ability similar to that of a
                                                         driver with a blood alcohol concentration
                                                         (BAC) of 0.05, and after 24 hours, similar
                                                         to a BAC of 0.10.1

                                                         Fatigue crashes are usually severe,
                                                         resulting in serious injury and death, as
                                                         the driver makes no attempt to avoid or
                                                         prevent the crash.

THE FACTS                                                • A driver is 4 times more likely to have a fatal
• Driver fatigue is particularly dangerous because it      fatigue crash if they are driving between 10pm and
  affects everyone, no matter how experienced a            dawn.5
  driver is. Driving when becoming sleepy is a high      • Nearly 30% of all fatal fatigue crashes occur during
  risk behaviour.                                          public and school holiday periods.7
• CARRS-Q estimates that fatigue is the primary
  contributing factor in 6% in all crashes, 15% in all   Where are fatigue crashes most likely to occur?
  fatal crashes and 30% of fatal crashes on rural        • In a 1998 Australian study of fatigue-related
  roads nationally.2 The contribution of fatigue may       crashes6, New South Wales had the highest
  even reach 40-50% in particular crash types, such        percentage of fatal crashes involving driver fatigue
  as fatal single vehicle semi-trailer crashes.3           (22%) and the Northern Territory had the highest
• Fatigue is four times more likely to contribute to       rate of fatigue-related crashes per 100 million
  workplace impairment (including driving tasks)           vehicle kilometres travelled (0.66). 16.7% of the
  than drugs or alcohol. However, unlike drugs and         national fatal fatigue-related crashes occurred in
  alcohol which can be measured to assess risk,            Queensland.
  measuring and thus combating fatigue in the            • On rural roads:
  workplace is difficult.4                                 The relative risk of dying as a result of a fatigue-
• Road safety agencies rely on assessments by the          related crash in rural areas of Queensland is 13.5
  police who attend crashes and statistical                times higher than the risk in urban areas.2
  surrogates (ie. specific crash criteria such as        • Long straight stretches of road.
  timing, number of vehicles involved and speed
  zone parameters) to determine the prevalence of        Who is most at-risk of a fatigue crash?
  fatigue-related crashes. Though police officers are    Driver fatigue affects everyone, however those at
  trained to perform such assessments, due to their      higher risk of a fatigue-related crash are:
  subjective nature, it is expected that the role of     • Rural drivers and riders
  fatigue in crashes is highly underestimated.           • Young male drivers and riders – research indicates
                                                            that 75.5% of fatigued drivers and riders involved
 When are fatigue crashes most likely to occur?             in single vehicle crashes in 1998 were male, with
• Fatigue becomes a factor in all trips that occur          35.1% being aged between 17 and 24 years of age.6
  during normal sleep times, or at any time the             Drivers and riders aged over 50 years are more
  driver has previously been deprived of sleep.             often involved in fatigue crashes in the afternoon
  This risk is increased if the driver is taking            (12-6pm).2
  medication or driving alone.                           • Shift workers and people with long work hours
                                                            (particularly on their trips home from work).
                                                                                                        before continuing. Consuming a
                                                                                                        caffeine drink may help.
                                                                                                    •   Share the driving task with others.
                                                                                                    •   Avoid travelling long distances after a
                                                                                                        full day’s work.
                                                                                                    •   Eat proper and well-balanced meals
                                                                                                        whilst travelling, preferably at your
                                                                                                        normal meal times.
                                                                                                    •   Seek medical advice if you regularly
                                                                                                        feel sleepy.
                                                                                                    •   Be aware of the effects of any
                                                                                                        medications you are taking. See your
                                                                                                        pharmacist or GP for advice on your
                                                                                                        current medication schedule.

                                                                                                    WHAT IS BEING DONE TO PREVENT
         Source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau
                                                                                                    FATIGUE-RELATED CRASHES?
                                                                                                    Policy and legislation
                                                                                                    • The National Road Safety Strategy and
                                                                                                      Queensland Road Safety Strategy
                                                                                                      provides a framework for national and
                                                                                                      state road safety initiatives, including
                                                                                                      those targeting fatigue-related
• Commercial drivers including heavy                  • Subjective feelings of drowsiness or          crashes.
  vehicle drivers. Commercial drivers                   tiredness                                   • Fatigue driving in Queensland is
  spend long hours on the road,                                                                       regulated by four means2:
  frequently drive at night, many keep                Warning signs of fatigue                        − Transport Operations (Road Use
  highly irregular schedules and may                  • Wandering in the lane or over lane
                                                                                                          Management – Fatigue Management)
  keep irregular sleep schedules. This                  lines                                             Regulation (Qld) 1998.
  lifestyle can cause chronic sleep                   • Changes in speed, especially slowing          − Transport Operations (Passenger
  deprivation. It is estimated that 1 in 3              down without reason                               Transport) Standard (Qld) 2000.
  fatal articulated truck crashes involve             • Poor concentration                            − Transport Operations (Road Use
  fatigue (compared with 1 in 6 for other             • Boredom
  fatal road crashes that do not involve a                                                                Management) Act (Qld) 1995; and
                                                      • Restlessness                                  − Criminal Code Act (Qld) 1899.
  truck). However usually the truck                   • Yawning
  driver is not at fault. The truck driver                                                          • The National Transport Commission
                                                      • Drowsiness                                    introduced Heavy Vehicle Driver
  was the fatigued party in only 1 of                 • Head nodding
  every 6 fatal fatigue crashes involving                                                             Fatigue Legislation in September 2008.
                                                      • Microsleeps (brief sleep episodes that        The new legislation, targeting all
  an articulated truck and another
                                                        can be as brief as a few seconds).            parties in the supply chain, requires
• Passenger cars are the main vehicles                                                                enhanced management of driver
                                                      Contributory factors to fatigue                 fatigue and setting revised work and
  involved in fatigue crashes. In a 1998
                                                      • Insufficient sleep (number 1                  rest hours for drivers. A national
  national study, 70.2% of fatigued
                                                        contributor, by far)                          survey of Australian transport
  drivers/riders involved in single vehicle
  crashes were driving passenger cars at
                                                      • Long periods awake                            companies in 20029 revealed that
  the time of the crash.6                             • Poor quality sleep                            though awareness of the dangers of
• People with medical conditions (eg.                 • Disruption of the daily cycle of waking       fatigue was high, changes in
  sleep apnea). About 24% of middle-                    and sleeping) – ie. driving when you          operational practice were significantly
  aged men, 28% of transport drivers and                would normally be asleep.                     lagging. The new legislation aims to
  9% of middle-aged women experience                  • Sustained mental or physical effort           address this shortfall. Further
  obstructive sleep apnea, where the                  • Inadequate rest breaks                        information can be found at
  airway collapses during sleep and                   • Stress                                        www.ntc.gov.au
  breathing is interrupted. 2 The effect              • Environmental stresses (eg. heat,
  is excessive fatigue and slow response                noise, vibration, climate, illumination)    Education
  times. People with sleep apnea have                 • Illness or pain                             • Mass media education campaigns aim
  up to 7 times the number of motor                   • Lifestyle/eating habits                       to heighten driver awareness of the
  vehicle crashes compared to people                                                                  dangers of fatigued driving.
  without the condition. 2 Only 10% of                TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE7                          Queensland Transport spends
  sufferers are diagnosed.4 The                                                                       approximately $957,000 annually on
                                                      • Ensure you regularly get enough sleep.
  estimated financial costs of sleep                                                                  light vehicle fatigue public education
                                                        Most people need 7-9 hours sleep per
  disorder related crashes was $1.1                                                                   campaigns.2 In addition, educational
                                                        day and young people require more.
  billion in 2004.2                                                                                   initiatives are run by motoring
                                                      • Get a good night’s sleep before
                                                                                                      organisations (eg. RACQ), local police
How does fatigue affect driving?                                                                      divisions, high-risk industries (eg.
                                                      • Avoid driving at the high risk times          mining) and fleet companies.
Driving while tired increases the risk of               (during normal sleep times).
being involved in a crash where someone               • Take frequent breaks (a rest break
is injured or killed. The effects of                                                                Environment
                                                        every 2 hours is recommended).              • Road engineering treatments that
fatigue on a driver include:                          • Both drivers and passengers should be
• Impaired performance                                                                                address run-off-road and head-on
                                                        alert to the signs of fatigue and how to      crashes can assist to make the
• Loss of attentiveness                                 take action. The only cure for fatigue
• Slower reaction times                                                                               environment more forgiving, reducing
                                                        is sleep. If you are feeling sleepy, stop     the chance of a fatigue-related crash
• Impaired judgement                                    immediately and a short nap of 10-20          or its severity if it does occur. Divided
• Poorer performance on skilled tasks                   minutes will prevent some fatigue.            roads, audio tactile line marking,
• Increasing probability of falling asleep              Allow time to recover from your sleep         removal of roadside hazards (eg. trees,
                                                                                               international findings of research on
                                                                                               driver fatigue.
                                                                                             • The implementation of improved road
                                                                                               design countermeasures to prevent
                                                                                               fatigue crashes.

                                                                                             1 Australian Transport Council, National
                                                                                               Road Safety Action Plan 2007 and 2008.
                                                                                             2 Legislative Assembly of Queensland:
                                                                                               Parliamentary Travelsafe Committee.
                                                                                               (2005). Driving on empty: Fatigue driving
                                                                                               in Queensland. Report No. 43.
                                                                                               Queensland Government: Brisbane.
                                                                                             3 Haworth, N., Triggs, J. and Grey, E.
                                                                                               (1988). Driver fatigue: Concepts,
                                                                                               measurement and crash
                                                                                               countermeasures. Monash University:
                                                                                               Report No. CR72. Federal Office of Road
                                                                                               Safety: Canberra.
                                                                                             4 Australian Mining. (2008). Dealing with
                                                                                               driver fatigue article.
                                                                                             5 Roads and Traffic Authority. (2008).
                                                                                               Driver fatigue fact sheet.
  poles and culverts) and profile line           degree of realism.                            www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadsafety/fatigue/
  markings are used throughout the road        • Rural and remote road safety                6 Dobbie, K. (2002). Fatigue-related
  network and particularly target black          collaborative study: research and             crashes: An analysis of fatigue-related
  spot areas.                                    intervention to reduce the economic,          crashes on Australian roads using an
• The reduction of driver monotony by            medical and social costs of road              operational definition of fatigue.
  making the road environment more               crashes in North Queensland.                  Road Safety Research Report OR23.
  interesting (eg. curved rather than          • Enhancing the understanding of work-          Australian Transport Safety Bureau:
  straight roads, scenic routes) also            related driving to identify potential         Canberra.
  assists to prevent driver fatigue.             intervention strategies to target the       7 City of Canterbury. (2008) Driver fatigue
• There are approximately 530 rest               key psychosocial and organisational           fact sheet. www.canterbury.nsw.gov.au/
  areas, heavy vehicle stopping areas and        factors influencing driver safety.            www/html/264-driver-fatigue-.asp
  points of interest such as scenic                                                          8 Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.
  lookouts in Queensland.8 These aim to                                                        (2009). Too tired to drive? fact sheet.
                                               FUTURE DIRECTIONS                               www.racv.com.au/wps.wcm/resources/
  reduce of number of fatigued drivers         • The development of a nationally               file/eb918105fb9fbf9/Driver_Fatigue_
  by encouraging regular rest breaks.            standardised definition of a “fatigue         Brochure.pdf
  The Queensland “Driver Reviver”                crash” and improved fatigue crash           9 Feyer, A., Williamson, A., Friswell, R.
  program operates in many rest areas            reporting systems are required which          and Sadural, S. (2002). Driver fatigue: A
  during holiday periods.                        are reliable, accurate and nationally         survey of long distance transport
                                                 standardised. Current reporting               companies in Australia. Research report
Research                                         systems fail in all three areas.              CR209. Department of Infrastructure,
• Australian research has focussed on the      • The development and trial of valid and        Transport, Regional Development and
  improved definition of fatigue crashes,        reliable fatigue detection technology is      Local Government: Canberra.
  analysis of statistical trends in fatigue-     recommended, that is suitable for use
  related crashes, reviews of current            in on-road enforcement and is
  literature pertaining to the issue,            recognised by the Courts.
  surveys of high risk groups, and the         • The development and implementation
  development, trial and evaluation of           of effective community education
  work-related road safety                       initiatives targeting high risk groups is
  countermeasures designed to prevent            essential. Such programs should target
  and combat fatigue.                            a better understanding of sleep
• There has been extensive research              rhythms, the signs of fatigue, how to
  aimed at developing on-board driver            combat fatigue and the dangers of
  monitoring and crash prevention                driving whilst tired.
  devices to reduce fatigue risks, but the     • Continued work with high risk industries
  effectiveness of these as a crash                                                           FOR MORE INFORMATION
                                                 is recommended to ensure legislative
  prevention measure remains unproven.           compliance and encourage the                 FOR MORE INFORMATION
                                                                                              Clare Murray
  Such technology has included alarm             development of effective                     Marketing & Events Officer
  rest break reminders and devices               countermeasures to reduce the                Clare Murray
  designed to monitor brain wave                                                              CARRS-Q
                                                 incidence of work-related fatigue            Marketing & Events Officer
  activity, eye movement, steering wheel                                                      Queensland University of Technology
                                                 crashes (eg. improved rostering,             CARRS-Q
  movement and levels of energy and                                                           130 Victoria Park Road
                                                 education, health programs and               Queensland University of Technology
  concentration.                                 alternative transport arrangements to        Kelvin Grove QLD 4059, Australia
                                                                                              Beams Road
                                                 and from work).                              Phone      +61 (0)7 3138 4568
                                                                                              Carseldine QLD 4034, Australia
CARRS-Q’S WORK IN THIS AREA                    • Improved training of general                 Fax        +61 (0)7 3138 7532
• The development of intelligent                                                              Phone      +61 (0)7 3138 4568
                                                 practitioners to increase the                Email      clare.murray@qut.edu.au
  transport systems (ITS) to monitor and                                                      Fax        +61 (0)7 3138 4907
                                                 identification, education and treatment      Website www.carrsq.qut.edu.au
  alert a driver of increased fatigue.           of patients with sleep disorders.
                                                                                              Email      clare.murray@qut.edu.au
  CARRS-Q will operate the State’s first       • Improved training and guidance for           CARRS-Q, www.carrsq.qut.edu.au
                                                                                              Website State of the Road: Fatigue Fact
  advanced driving simulator from 2009                                                        Sheet, 2009
                                                 police officers to more accurately
  which will enable researchers to study                                                      CARRS-Q, State of the Road: Speeding Fact
                                                 recognise fatigue-related crashes.
  drivers in critical situations with a high                                                  (Updated: March 2009)
                                                                                              Sheet, 2008
                                               • Monitoring the national and
                                                                                              (Updated: October 2008)

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