"People are not heeding our warnings or obeying common sense and they are dying at the wheel," a Young police officer frustrated with the local area road toll has said.
Acting Inspector Young Police Michael Madgwick said driving whilst tired was as bad if not worse than drink or drug driving.
“It’s a really scary thought but research shows that being awake for about 17 hours has a similar effect on your driving performance as an illegal blood alcohol level of 0.05,” he said.
“We know that fatigue is not just a problem for long drives – drivers need to consider how tired they are every time they set out on the road, whether it’s a short or a long trip, day or night.”
Acting Inspector Madgwick said fatigue is outnumbering intoxication as the cause of accidents in our region.
"I have to analyse all the motor vehicle accidents in the local area command, and a pattern is developing whereby driver fatigue is causing more and more injury and fatal accidents in the area," he said.
"In December we had one serious motor vehicle accident caused by intoxication, but we had three caused by driver fatigue.
"We had a fatal on the Mid Western Highway near Grenfell three weeks ago and another in our area recently where the bloke fell asleep driving through the town at 11 at night and had an accident, he was very lucky to survive that."
Mr Madgwick said many drivers put themselves and other road users at risk by continuing on their journey when they are tired or by refusing to take a break on longer trips.
"The sad fact is that when the police turn up to a single vehicle crash, which has struck a tree or power pole, driver fatigue is more than likely the reason for the loss of life," he said.
"It is really easy to pull over to have a break, or have a nap, but clearly drivers are not doing this.
“Something as simple as taking regular breaks, or regularly swaping drivers to avoid becoming tired and then continuing on your journey can save lives on our roads.”
Tips to assist motorists avoid driving tired:
· Get a good night’s sleep
· Avoid driving at night when your body will naturally want to sleep
· Arrange to share the driving
· Avoid long drives after work
· Plan to take regular breaks from driving (use rest areas)
· Catch a cab or public transport instead
· Ask someone for a lift
· Find out if any medicine you are taking may affect your driving
· Know what the early warning signs of fatigue are.
If you feel tired when driving:
· Pull over for a break in a safe place
· Pull over for a nap (up to 20 minutes works best)
· Swap drivers if you can
· Even if you don’t feel tired, take regular breaks to avoid becoming tired
Sleep is the only way to overcome tiredness. Whether it’s a short or a long trip, make sure you plan ahead to avoid driving tired.