Headline: Beware fatigue while driving, drivers advised

Photo: Long drives can lull you to sleep – and that could be fatal, ICBC says

As we head into the B.C. Day long weekend, ICBC, the B.C. government and police are asking all drivers who will be setting off on a road trip to look out for the key warning signs of fatigue – you don’t recall driving the last few kilometres, you don’t notice a vehicle until it suddenly passes you or your driving speed is creeping up or down.

Every year, 16 people are killed in crashes involving driver fatigue in B.C.*

Warm summer weather and long drives can be a dangerous combination that can cause fatigue. Fatigue slows a driver’s reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment. Even a slight decrease in reaction time can greatly increase your risk of crashing especially when travelling at highway speeds.

Here are the top tips to reduce your risk:

  • Plan your journey: Get a good sleep the night before you leave on a long trip and know the route you’re going to take so you can plan to stop at rest points along the way. Take a break every two hours on long road trips and avoid driving during the night when you’d normally be asleep. Long weekends always mean more vehicles on the road so plan ahead by checking road and weather conditions on drivebc.ca.
  • Take a break: Pull over as soon as you start to feel drowsy. Get out and walk around to get some fresh air. If that’s not enough, pull over to a safe area, turn off your car and take a nap. Turning up the radio or air conditioning won’t help. The only cure for drowsiness is sleep; it’s better to arrive late than not at all.
  • Know the signs: We don’t often sense the degree of our own fatigue when we’re driving so it’s important to know the warning signs. Some of the things to watch for:
  • You don’t notice a vehicle until it suddenly passes you.
  • You don’t recall driving the last few kilometres.
  • You’re yawning or daydreaming.
  • You find yourself wandering into the next lane.
  • Your driving speed creeps up or down.
  • Your eyes feel heavy or you have difficulty keeping your head up.

“Being well-rested and staying alert at the wheel is the best way to reach your destination safely,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Consider sharing the driving with a passenger if possible to reduce your risk of getting fatigued. Visit drivebc.ca ahead of your trip to check road conditions and plan your rest breaks.”

“Law enforcement will be keeping watch on B.C. roadways this long weekend to ensure drivers are abiding by the law and making smart choices with their travel plans,” said Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We want everyone to arrive at their destinations safely so that means putting your phone away, being alert and paying attention to the road.”

“If you’re setting out on a road trip this weekend, make sure you’re well rested so you stay alert at the wheel,” said Chief Constable Neil Dubord, Chair of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police Traffic Safety Committee. “We want everyone to arrive at their destinations safely. Police will be out looking for unsafe drivers across the province this long weekend.”

“The best way to prevent driver fatigue this long weekend is to get a good sleep and start your road trip when you are well rested, typically in the morning, rather than rushing after a full day at work,” said Lindsay Matthews, ICBC’s director responsible for road safety. “The signs of fatigue can sneak up on you so it’s important to recognize the warning signs. Make sure you’ve gotten plenty of rest and plan to stop at viewpoints or rest stops every two hours.”

Additional statistics**:

  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, five people are killed and 600 injured in 2,400 crashes throughout the province.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, 420 people are injured in 1,500 crashes in the Lower Mainland.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, 84 people are injured in 400 crashes in Southern Interior.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, 20 people are injured in 130 crashes in northern B.C.
  • Over the B.C. Day long weekend, 85 people are injured in 350 crashes on Vancouver Island.

*Driver fatigue is underreported as it’s difficult to measure. Based on police data (2010 to 2014).

**Injured victims and crashes from 2015 ICBC data and fatal victims from police data five-year average (2010 to 2014).

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