After 24 hours without sleep, a driver's level of fatigue is equivalent to twice the legal alcohol limit.
After 24 hours without sleep, a driver's level of fatigue is equivalent to twice the legal alcohol limit. Transurban

Tired? Don't drive, survive

DRIVING while fatigued was at an all-time high during 2018, and researchers say things need to change.

With 20 per cent of drivers admitting they had fallen asleep at the wheel, researchers from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) are urging drivers to reconsider driving tired in 2019.

According to NeuRA's Professor Danny Eckert, after 24 hours without sleep, one's level of fatigue is equivalent to twice the legal alcohol limit.

"While you're awake throughout the day, chemicals such as adenosine build up in the brain, which make you feel sleepy - this isn't something you can fight,” he said.

"Driving fatigued is just as dangerous as driving under the influence and fatigue combined with a legal amount of alcohol is even more likely to result in a crash.”

With 20 to 30 per cent of all fatal crashes are caused by fatigued driving, Professor Eckert said people needed to know the warning signs indicating they should come off the road.

"Rolling down the windows, turning the radio up and struggling to keep your eyes open while driving are all signs of drowsiness, which can lead to falling asleep behind the wheel or having impaired judgment on the road,” he said.

Tony Adams, group executive project deliverer from Transurban, reinforced the importance of safe driving.

"We know many drivers may not be good at judging how tired they are when they get behind the wheel, which is a good reason to remind people to be well rested before travelling,” he said.

"To avoid fatigue on long journeys the message is simple and is one we all know well. When you are feeling tired, stop and take a break.”

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