You wouldn't believe the amount of times people either come close to or actually do fall asleep behind the wheel. It's a huge problem that contributes to Ireland's number of road accidents year in year out (check out the pie chart in the image above). In their attempt to combat driver fatigue, which can be as bad as drink driving, The RSA, An Garda Síochána and Applegreen have announced Driver Reviver Campaign. It launches ahead of the bank holiday weekend as a warning to short term holiday makers to take extra care when making their journeys from Friday to Monday.
New survey findings released by the Road Safety Authority shows that almost two thirds of drivers (60%) attempt to fight tiredness while driving through ineffective means such as opening windows, singing or talking to themselves and turning on the radio.
The findings come as the RSA, An Garda Síochána and Applegreen launched a campaign this Bank Holiday weekend aimed at highlighting the dangers of driver fatigue. On Friday 2nd August Applegreen will provide free cups of coffee to drivers between 2pm and 8pm at 17 participating service stations around the country.
Drivers simply mention the ‘RSA’ to the till operator and they will receive a free cup of coffee on Friday to ensure they get to their destination safely
International research suggests that driver fatigue could be a contributory factor in 1 in 5 driver deaths in Ireland. Therefore, this silent killer could have been a contributory factor in almost 215 road deaths in the past 5 years.
Commenting ahead of the August Bank Holiday Weekend the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Mr. Leo Varadkar T.D., urged road users to be extra vigilant. “Five people lost their lives over the June Bank Holiday weekend. We should all redouble our efforts to avoid a repeat this bank holiday. If you feel tired, then pull over and take a break. We are also asking drivers this weekend to watch out for changeable road conditions with the changing weather. Please enjoy the weekend, but do so safely.”
Noel Brett, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Authority said; "We are delighted that Applegreen has joined with us on this Driver Reviver campaign. The company is making a very practical and worthwhile contribution to road safety and I would urge drivers, particularly any who are feeling tired to avail of their offer of free coffee on Friday. As with every bank holiday weekend, there are added risks when using our roads. More people will be taking to the roads, travelling long distances, often without breaks. Scientific studies show that if a driver persists in fighting sleep while driving, the impairment level is the same as driving while over the drink drive limit."
"To drivers we say; if you are fighting sleep at the wheel, stop immediately. If you can, drink a cup of coffee or caffeine drink but most importantly take a 15 to 20 minute nap. Following the nap stretch your legs and get some fresh air. By following this advice you should be able to drive for another hour or more."
Unfortunately, this new research indicates that a third of drivers (31%) respond to feeling sleepy while driving by opening the window, 12.6% said they stretched their legs, 8% reported that they sing or talk to themselves or a passenger and 5% said they turned on the radio. None of these help in combating driver fatigue. In fact, these are the people who are most at risk of being involved in a driver fatigue related crash. Never drive if you are fighting sleep or you may never wake up.” continued Mr. Brett.
What to do if you are a tired driver?
1. NEVER DRIVE IF YOU'RE FIGHTING SLEEP.
2. When you start fighting sleep at the wheel, your impairment is as dangerous as driving over the legal alcohol limit.
3. Stop and take a nap for 15 minutes- (set your mobile phone alarm)
4. To really make the most of your break take a Caffeine drink before the nap (150mg of Caffeine e.g. 2 cups of coffee).
5. After the nap, get some fresh air and stretch your legs.
6. By following all of the above advice you should be able to drive for another hour or more.
More information on driver tiredness can be found in the RSA's booklet ‘Driver Tiredness – The Facts' and can be downloaded from the RSA website www.rsa.ie. A copy of the RSA's research on driver fatigue can also be downloaded from www.rsa.ie.