Learners Resources | Eastern Driving School

Driving Fatigue.

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Fatigue results in thousands of crashes every year.

What do we mean by “fatigue” You are fatigured when you become tired and can’t concentrate on your driving. You may even have a micro-sleep* or fall asleep at the wheel.

Micro- sleeps {nodding off} typically lasts between 2 and 20 seconds – but if you are travelling at 100 /h, in one second the car will have gone 28 m without you being in control.

How do we know?

Unlike alcohol-related crashes, there are no simple tests to determine if fatigue was a cause in a crash.

Investigators suspect fatigue as a cause when;

> The crash occurs late at night, early in the morning or late in the afternoon,

> A single car has run off the roadway.

> Nothing indicates the driver tried to avoid the crash {e.g. no skidmarks}

There are many warning signs for fatigue. A combination of any of the following signals that the driver is becoming fatigured and needs to take a break:

> yawning

> eyes feeling sore or heavy

> vision starting to blur

> start seeing things

> daydreaming and not concentrating

> becoming impatient

> feeling hungry or thirsty

> reactions seem slow

> feeling stiff or cramped

> driving speed creeps up or down

> starting to make poor gear changes

> wandering over the centre line or onto the road edge

What has research told us about fatigue?

Everybody needs sleep and we all have our own patterns of sleepiness and wakefulness. Fatigue {sometimes referred to as drowsiness or sleepiness} causes crashes because it slows down the driver’s reaction times and affects their scanning abilities and information processing skills.

> Although the need for sleep varies among individuals, sleeping eight hour in 24-hour period is common.

> The effect of sleep loss builds up. Regularly losing 1 to 2 hours sleep a night can create a “sleep debt” and lead to chronic sleepiness over time – and cause involuntary micro-sleeps.

> Just being in bed doesn’t mean a person has had enough sleep. Disrupted sleep has the same effect as lack of sleep. Illness, noise, activity, lights, etc, can interrupt and reduce the amount and quality of sleep.

Fatigue can strike any driver, but you are at greater risk as a young person if you:

> Combine heavy study or work with leisure and late night socialising.

> Change your sleep patterns and reduce night time sleep.

> Drink alcohol and or use other drugs.

Here are some ideas to minimise fatigue when you are driving:

> Plan to get sufficient and regular sleep. Most people need around 7-8 hours in every 24-hour period. Making do with less sleep will affect your driving.

> If you are sleepy or tired, don’t drink even small amounts of alcohol. Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system and can make you even more tired or less alert.

> Try not to drive during your normal sleeping hours. Your body works in a rhythm or pattern and when you upset this rhythm it can badly affect you.

> If possible take a taxi or a lift with another person rather than driving during your normal sleep times. {you can always pick your car up in the morning if you have to .

> Think about what activity you were doing before the drive. If it was physically or mentally demanding then fatigue may “kick in” within a few minutes of beginning the trip.

> Know the signs that indicate you are tired.

> If you are fatigued , you must stop driving. Let a passenger drive or take a short “power nap” before continuing with the trip.

> Fatigue can set in even on short local trips. If there is no alternative to travelling a short distance when you are tired then make sure you make your journey as uncomfortable as possible – too cold, noisy or windy for example. If this works it won’t work for long and if it doesn’t work you are putting yourself at great risk and you should stop.

 

Source: Road to Solo Driving

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What is the two second rule ?

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The two second rule is about the following distance behind the vehicle in front.

The following distance is the space or gap between you and the vehicle in front.

You must keep your vehicle a safe distance from any vehicle in front of you. A safe distance should be enough to allow time to slow down and avoid trouble.

You should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front. You can check this by a simple test:

>> Focus on a marker in the distance such as a signpost or tree and note when the vehicle in front passes the marker, then count the number of seconds before your vehicle passes the same marker. Ask your supervising driver to also do this and compare your results.

If your count is not at least two seconds then you are to close.

At least two seconds of time and the distance this represents under ideal driving conditions are necessary to give you time to react to any changes which may happen.

Often, you may need more than two seconds,

This includes:

>> when visibility is poor

>> if conditions are dark

>> if conditions are wet or slippery

>> when you have a heavy load

>> when the road is unmade

You need to develop your judgement skills about what distance at different speeds represents two seconds. This skill will only come with lots of supervised driving experience.

But remember , under any conditions that are less than ideal, a longer gap is recommrnded.

Souce:  The Road to Solo Driving