8 ways to avoid a crash this Christmas

DRIVER fatigue is responsible for almost one third of all road deaths and severe injuries.

With people driving on unfamiliar roads and often driving tired over Christmas, Ipswich business owner Michael Pezzelato has spoken out to remind residents to stay alert while on the road.

The Bridgestone Select North Ipswich owner said that while fatality rates were not necessarily higher or lower than normal during holiday periods, the characteristics of road crashes were vastly different.

"Most people think crashes are more prevalent during the holiday period, but data shows that's not the case. It's actually the risk factors that are different over the holidays, with more people travelling on unfamiliar roads for longer periods of time to new destinations," he said.

"As a result, there's an increase in the number of single vehicle crashes, crashes occurring on roads with speed limits of 100 and above, and metropolitan drivers involved in fatal crashes in rural areas. There's also a noticeable increase in fatigue related crashes."

With fatigue responsible for 20-30% of all road deaths and severe injuries - on par with speeding and drink driving - Mr Pezzelato said it was important to remain alert.

His tips to avoid a crash this holiday season include:

  1. Don't get behind the wheel if you're already tired. Get a good night's sleep before you leave.
  2. Ensure you get enough sleep. Most people need 7-9 hours per day and young people often require more than that.
  3. Avoid driving at the high-risk times. E.g. when you would usually be asleep or after a long day of activities.
  4. Take frequent breaks. A break at least every two hours is the current recommendation.
  5. Notice the warning signs and stop driving immediately.
  6. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep, so take a 10-20 minute power nap.
  7. Share the driving on long trips.
  8. Be aware of the effects of any medications you are taking.

"It's important to remember that driver fatigue can affect anyone, no matter how much experience you've had behind the wheel," Mr Pezzelato said.

"These simple tips will go a long way to keeping you and your family safe."

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