Saturday 16 December 2017

Chilling new ad shows dangerous effects of 'silent killer' fatigue behind the steering wheel

Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A chilling new ad released today shows the dangerous effects of ‘silent killer’ fatigue behind the steering wheel.

Fatigue is estimated to be a factor in one in five fatal collisions on the country’s roads.

The ad, timely released ahead of the busy August Bank Holiday weekend, urges sleepy drivers to pull over and have a coffee and a power-nap before continuing their journey.

“Fatigue is called the silent killer on the roads,” Road Safety Authority spokesperson Brian Farrell said.

“And it’s the truth, it creeps up on you.

“The tendency with falling asleep at the wheel is for people not to realised they’re heading towards an impact, and they lack the avoiding action.

“This means that tiredness-related collisions are three times more likely to be fatal or result in serious injury because of the high impact speed.”

Speaking to RTE Radio One’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ programme, Mr Farrell said the RSA are working alongside An Garda Siochana to raise awareness of fatigue as a serious road issue.

“The most important thing is what you do when you feel tired,” he said.

“My advice is you shouldn’t fight sleep at the wheel. Your body is sending you signals to tell you you’re tired, you're yawning and you’re struggling to concentrate.

“I’ve heard of solutions where people have turned up the radio, turned down the window, even jamming their hair in the sunroof to keep them awake.

“I’ve heard of people putting elastic bands around their wrists or thumb-tacks on the seat to keep them awake with the pain, none of these things work but they are some of the things people will do.

“The simple solution is to pull over and rest.”

The RSA are now promoting their ‘Stop, Sip and Sleep’ solution where they ask people to pull over, sip a coffee, sleep for 15-20 minutes and wake up to continue their journey.

“The only cure for a lack of sleep is sleep itself,” Mr Farrell said.

“Stop in a safe place, get a cup of coffee, take a nap. The coffee will take effect after 15 or 20 minutes and you’ll get the double bonus of the rest and the caffeine. You’ll be good to go for another hour or so.

“However, this is a short term measure. It is not a cure for chronic lack of sleep. The only cure for that is sleep.

“We’re in partnership with the gardai and they’re playing an important role in how to communicate and educate with the public on driver fatigue.

“They’re going into schools and businesses and stopping drivers at the side of the road, getting the important point across that fatigue is a serious issue.

“It’s extraordinary the lengths to which people will go to fight what their body is telling them.”

Over the last five years, 256 people have died on the roads in the months of June, July, and August.

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