Avoid driver fatigue on a long road trip

It should be about the journey, not just about the destination.

A road trip should be about taking the scenic route, stopping for a meat pie at a local bakery, pulling over to take a photo of sunset or simply enjoying the company of your passengers.

Too often, Queenslanders become fatigued behind the wheel when attempting to get from point A to B in a hurry or when travelling solo. 

Fatigue is one of the top five factors contributing to road crashes in Queensland. Each year an average of 31 people killed and 462 seriously injured on Queensland roads as a result of crashes where fatigue played a part.

Last year, RACQ’S annual Road Safety Survey revealed 36% of Queensland drivers admitted to driving while tired and had experienced difficulty staying awake behind the wheel.

Early warning signs of fatigue include feeling drowsy, inability to concentrate, failing to notice road signs or local landmarks and slow reactions to traffic events.

RACQ Head of Technical and Safety Policy Steve Spalding said fatigue can easily creep up on a driver.

“By trying to just keep going there is a real risk of crashing,” Mr Spalding said.

“Enjoy the journey, it doesn’t need to be a chore.

“Take the time to stop at small towns, Driver Reviver sites and local scenic viewing points.

“When stopped, take a few pictures to share with family and friends, read about some local history, enjoy the hospitality often found at a local café or coffee stall.

“These are the things that turn a long tedious drive into an enjoyable road trip.”

Mr Spalding said stopping at small towns along the way also helped their local economy.

“Every tourist or traveller helps in a small way to support local businesses,” Mr Spalding said.

“A small detour off the highway and through the town centre will often reveal little gems that get missed by through traffic.” 

Winding down the window, turning up the radio or drinking a coffee won’t keep you awake. The only cure for fatigue is rest.

Tips to avoid driver fatigue

  • Get plenty of sleep the night before.
  • Avoid driving at time you’re normally sleeping.
  • Avoid long drives after a day’s work.
  • Take rest breaks every two hours.
  • Share the driving if possible.
  • Eat well balanced meals along the way.
  • Stay somewhere overnight if you’re on a long trip.
  • Avoid driving altogether if you know you are fatigued.