3pm is driving dead zone

Friday, 2 July 2010

Russell White, road safety advocate and managing director of Driver Safety.com.au, said it was important for Governments to highlight the accident risks of tiredness, yet many people believed fatigue was something that happened while driving late at night or early mornings.

“That’s not something that bears out in the statistics,” he said.

“The most dangerous hours of the day to be on the road is between 3pm and 5pm where I believe that a more subtle form of fatigue is at work.”

Mr White said that a comparison of almost 20 years of data (1989 and 2008 YTD) from the Australian Transport Safety Board showed that people were almost three times as likely to die at 3pm as they were at 4am.

“The reason behind this is not the volume of vehicles on the road because we don’t see the same dramatic rise during morning peak hour,” said Mr White.

In fact, fatalities between 3pm and 5pm are almost double of those that occur between 8am and 10am. And just as telling is that the number of fatal crashes is higher than average until 8pm.

“People on the roads at the danger times whether they be tradesmen coming home from work, mothers picking up their children from school or office workers finishing for the day are distracted and somewhat fatigued – even when there is plenty of daylight left,” said Mr White.

“Fatigue is not just lack of sleep, it is going through regular tasks on auto pilot, thinking about the kids, the job, the shopping, the night ahead, all of which takes your concentration from where it needs to be most – on the road.

“Many of us experience the mid-afternoon slump in concentration and energy but for those hitting the road, that fatigue can have deadly consequences. And no amount of coffee, singing along with the radio or winding down the window for a breath of fresh air is an adequate substitute.”

Mr White recommended adopting techniques that pulled drivers’ attention back on to the road in plenty of time to deal with emerging events.

These ‘switching on’ methods can be as simple as drawing back up into the correct driving position as a means of mentally alerting oneself when approaching intersections, school zones, residential streets etc.

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