Recent research from insurance provider GIO has found that getting a good night’s sleep before you hit the holiday road can make a world of difference when it comes to safety. Their survey of 4,097 Australian drivers found that a frightening 1 in 5 have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.
GIO spokesperson Stephen Bell says, “Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for road accidents and motor insurance claims.
“While many of us will be taking the opportunity to make the most of the long weekend, it’s important not to stretch yourself beyond your limits and keep road safety front of mind.”
Easter, like most holidays, has always been a bad time for road deaths in Australia. The Easter road toll in 2016 was 9 deaths, and in 2015, the Easter road toll reached as high as 15, according to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (bitre).
Tips to avoid crashing this Easter break
Here’s our top tips for safe driving this Easter long weekend, based on GIO’s research:
- Get a good night’s sleep in the days leading up to your journey.
- Avoid beginning a trip at the end of a day’s work, or driving at times when you would normally be asleep, such as very early in the morning.
- Take a break and stretch your legs every 2 hours, and swap drivers if you can.
- It is dangerous to rely on caffeine, energy drinks, and loud music – stopping to sleep is a much better solution.
- Slow down while driving at night, particularly in the country, as animals and other hazards are infinitely harder to spot in the dark.
- Ensure that your registration, car servicing, and car insurance are up to date before you leave!
Be safe out there, and remember, double demerit points begin today, so watch your speed!
Double demerits over Easter begins at midnight today until 11:59pm on the 17th (Monday). Please drive safe! pic.twitter.com/fcoTYaY0po
— Nine News Perth (@9NewsPerth) April 12, 2017
1. Don’t drive tired
GIO found that young drivers aged 18 to 24 years old were the drivers most likely to drive tired, with 29% of those surveyed admitting that they had fallen asleep at the wheel, even if only for a moment. The next highest age group is those aged 25-49 years old (23%), and drivers over 50 (15%).
The research also found that:
- Only a quarter of drivers stop for a break at the recommended 2 hour mark.
- More than a third (38%) push themselves past the 2.5-3.5 hour mark.
- One in five (22%) motorists drive more than 4 hours without stopping.
Fatigue has always been one of the biggest killers of drivers, and it can be very hard to notice when you’re fatigued. The Motoring.com.au team conducted a crash test experiment which shows that driving while fatigued has the same effects on the body as being impaired by alcohol:
Source: Motoring Australia
So get a good night’s sleep before taking your Easter road trip, and take breaks as you go!
2. Avoid distractions
Stephen Bell of GIO has urged parents in particular to be cautious during Easter time, as roughly two thirds (61%) say their children have distracted them from concentrating on the road at least once.
Approximately 40% of parents say that they dread taking long car tips with their kids – and who can blame them?
Common kid-related distractions for drivers include:
- Kicking the seat/interfering with the driver (80%)
- Fighting with siblings (76%)
- Playing noisily (73%)
- Playing loud music (55%)
Check out our top tips for travelling with kids to avoid dangerous driving situations.
“Children on road trips will inevitably become restless, so it’s important to plan ahead and schedule regular stops to stretch their legs and take a breather,” said Mr Bell.
“It’s a good idea to also have some car-friendly games or activities to keep them occupied.”
3. Don’t be impatient
Driving can be frustrating at the best of times – after all, everyone else on the road except you is an idiot. Drivers can easily fall victim to their own impatience when a lack of sleep and traffic jams are added into the mix.
Allianz Insurance advises that the majority of the claims they receive for car-related accidents during the Easter period occur in slow freeway crawls, resulting in plenty of nose-to-tail collisions.
“Allow plenty of time to get to your destination,” said an Allianz spokesperson.
“The roads will be full of people all doing the same as you, so if you’re travelling on a reasonably long trip and see a ‘Driver Reviver’ rest stop, pull over and take a break with a coffee and a biscuit.”
QBE Insurance echoes the driver warnings from GIO and Allianz, saying Easter traffic almost always causes increased car insurance claims.
“As there are generally more people on the road around Easter, this extra volume of traffic can often lead to more claims for damage from road-related accidents,” said a QBE spokesperson.
“We’d encourage everyone to be aware of fatigue. When on a road trip, people often drive for longer distances than usual and on less familiar roads.
“These factors, along with heavier traffic congestion, can cause frustration and tiredness for everyone in the car.
“Regular breaks are important, and it’s just as much the responsibility of the passengers as the driver to ensure there are pit-stops during long trips.”