MOTORISTS are being told not to keep quiet about the silent killer during the holiday period, reinforcing the message to stay awake to stay alive.
Nine councils from the state’s southern region have banded with Roads and Maritime Services and the police to promote the Stay Awake campaign and reduce the number of fatigue related crashes on the state’s roads.
Driver fatigue causes almost 20 per cent of the annual NSW road toll.
The risk of a fatal fatigue crash is highest between 10pm and 6am when the body’s circadian rhythms are programmed for sleep - four times greater than for the rest of the day.
Councils in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Wollondilly, Wingecarribee, Goulburn, Mulwaree and Queanbeyan areas are focused on this issue because of the high number of accidents experienced in the southern parts of NSW.
Paralympic gold medallist and Stay Awake ambassador, Brett Stibners, acquired his disability when he lost his leg in a fatigue related crash. Falling asleep behind the wheel changed his life forever.
He was 21 and had just been named in the Australian men’s indoor hockey team.
“Driver fatigue can happen to anyone if you ignore the early warning signs,” the 34-year-old Oak Flats resident said.
“Have a plan to stop, revive, survive, and share driving if possible.
“It can happen to you.
“It was 11am on a Tuesday, 30 minutes into an hour-and-half trip.
“I was coming from Campbelltown, turned on to Picton Road and fell asleep on Picton Road.
“The early signs of fatigue, if you feel them coming on, it doesn’t take much to stop and have a break.”
Sergeant Kevin Hood of the Lake Illawarra Local Area Command highway patrol warned motorists of the “silent killer”.
“We ask people that are travelling to plan their trip and include rest breaks, make use of driver reviver locations and don’t ignore the warning signs,” he said.
“Fatigue is a major contributing factor to collisions… It’s better to get there 15-20 minutes late than not at all.”
Driver while tired early warning signs include yawning, poor concentration, tired eyes, restlessness, drowsiness, slow reactions, boredom and oversteering.
A competition is now being held for motorists to win one of six fuel vouchers valued at $100 each, one of five ‘fatigue fighter’ packs or more than 150 ‘stay awake’ consolation prizes.
Entry forms are available at many Driver Reviver stops, service centres and roadhouses to Stop Revive Survive along the Princes, Hume and Kings highways and will test the knowledge and understanding motorists have of driver fatigue warning signs.