Stay awake these holidays

19 December, 2011Posted in: Community, Roads and Assets

Fatigue is a killer on our roads, accounting for almost 20 per cent of the annual NSW road toll.

Wingecarribee Shire Council, in conjunction with other Southern Region Councils, including Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Wollondilly, Goulburn Mulwaree and Queanbeyan have launched a road safety initiative to promote awareness of fatigue.

Designed to alert motorists to the early warning signs of fatigue, the ‘Stay Awake’ program will also educate drivers on the dangers of micro sleeps and poor concentration behind the wheel.

Project ambassador Brett Stibners, Paralympian and Gold Medallist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is personally committed to alerting motorists to the early signs of fatigue after acquiring his disability in a fatigue related crash.

“I was 21 years old when I fell asleep behind the wheel,” Mr Stibners said. “I lost my left leg from the resulting crash.

“I had just been selected in the Australian Men’s Indoor Hockey Team. My life changed forever after the accident.”

Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Road Safety Officer Melanie Lausz recognises how insidious fatigue can be.

“Everyone is busy at the end of the year, generally feeling worn out and tired,” Ms Lausz said.

“Getting behind the wheel when you have not had a proper night’s sleep can be disastrous.

“The early warning signs of driver fatigue include yawning, poor concentration, tired eyes, restlessness, drowsiness, slow reactions, boredom and oversteering.”

The ‘Stay Awake’ program aims to increase awareness of these signs while encouraging motorists to stop, revive and survive at one of the many Driver Revivers, rest areas, service centres and roadhouses dotted along major roads.

“There were nearly 2,000 fatigue related crashes on the Southern Region roads between 2004 and 2010,” Ms Lausz said. “With the help of this program, we hope to bring down this number significantly.”

As part of the program, motorists have the opportunity to win one of six $100 fuel vouchers, or a ‘Fatigue Fighter’ pack including a picnic set and stop revive survive gear. Simply complete an entry form located in over 70 businesses supporting the ‘Stay Awake’ project between Picton and Queanbeyan, and Wollongong and Eden on the South Coast.