June 29, 2007

Driver fatigue can be as dangerous as drinking, says CAA-Quebec

Quebec, Quebec – As vacationers head out on long road trips, CAA-Quebec warns that driving for extended periods can increase the risk of driver fatigue. Studies suggest that fatigue is a factor in 22.9 per cent of fatal crashes, 20 per cent of crashes causing bodily injury, and 20 per cent of all crashes in Quebec.

“A sleep debt of around five hours has the same effect as consuming two or three glasses of wine,” says Sophie Gagnon, Director of Public and Government Relations for CAA-Quebec. “In other words, you can be impaired without having had any alcohol.”

The risk of drowsiness is highest between 1 and 3 p.m., and between 2 and 6 a.m. If you drive for four hours straight, day or night, you are less likely to be alert than normal for up to 30 minutes of that time, especially if you are driving on the highway.

Symptoms of drowsiness include vision distortion, frequent yawning, trouble keeping the eyes open, and the inability to maintain a steady speed or a straight trajectory. To prevent fatigue, get a good night’s sleep before leaving, keep the vehicle’s interior well-ventilated, keep the temperature down, have light meals and drink plenty of water. At the first signs of fatigue, pull over and get some rest.

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