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Billboards urge Waikato motorists to 'wake up'

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New road-side billboards are being installed on Waikato highways to alert drivers and their passengers about the dangers of driving tired.

Tired Drivers Are Dangerous billboard. Waikato motorists are being urged to ‘wake up’.

New road-side billboards are being installed on Waikato highways to alert drivers and their passengers about the dangers of driving tired. The billboards are part of a multi-agency road safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of fatigue-related crashes in the Waikato, which statistics show are some of the most serious on the road.

From 2003 to 2007 there were 599 reported fatigue-related crashes in the Waikato region, resulting in 63 deaths and 182 serious injuries.

ACC Injury Prevention Consultant, Lisa Taylor says fatigue crashes are particularly deadly because they often occur when the driver is not concentrating on their driving and unable to take any evasive action. ‘Loss of control’ and ‘head on’ crashes are the most common types of fatal crashes involving fatigue.

Ms Taylor says, “These types of crashes produce the highest percentage of deaths and serious injuries. Drivers need to be aware that a vehicle travelling at 100 km/h covers 27m every second so even if they nod off for just two seconds, their vehicle will be driving for 54m without anyone controlling the car. During that time their vehicle could easily start drifting off the road or into the oncoming lane and, if that happens, there will be no one awake at the wheel to react.”

Even if a tired driver doesn’t fall asleep, they still have a high risk of crashing.

Ms Taylor says, “Tired drivers suffer from slower reactions, reduced concentration and are less aware of the road and traffic around them.”

To combat fatigue drivers are encouraged to plan their trips to include regular breaks, get at least eight hours sleep before they embark on a long journey, pull over and take a short nap if they are tired, and to remember that it’s not the length of the trip that’s the problem - it’s fatigue.

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) Acting Network Operations Manager Alan Burkett says familiar trips and stretches of road where the driver can go into ‘automatic’ are particularly risky for tired drivers.

Mr Burkett says, “Tired drivers tend to zone out when they perceive that they don’t need to concentrate, and a high percentage of fatigue crashes occur on straight sections of road and close to home. The safest course of action for tired drivers, if they can’t get someone else to drive, is to pull over and have a short nap.”

The Waikato fatigue campaign is part of a multi-agency Network Safety Co-ordination (NSC) project aimed at improving road safety. The project involves a number of organisations including the NZTA, ACC, Environment Waikato, the Police, and local councils.

The fatigue campaign is scheduled to run until early December and is the first of several road safety modules that will be delivered throughout the Waikato region over the coming 12 months.

For more information please contact:

Alan Burkett
Acting Regional Operations Manager
NZ Transport Agency
T    07 903 5110
M   027 292 8073
alan.burkett@nzta.govt.nz

Lisa Taylor
Injury Prevention Consultant
ACC
T    07 957 5826
M   027 220 7627
lisa.taylor@acc.co.nz

Julie Hannam
Regional Communications Advisor
NZ Transport Agency
T    64 07 903 5146
M   64 027 294 2649  
julie.hannam@nzta.govt.nz

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