Labour weekend delivered an unusual surprise – sunshine over most of the country. There was a second cause for celebration too – the lowest number of road fatalities in NZ since 1977 – well done Kiwis!
The Police are hoping key messages are finally getting through and people are learning not to drive drunk or when tired. Ministry of Transport figures for 2012 show 51 people died in road crashes where fatigue was a factor – the second biggest cause of road fatalities after drunk drivers.
Thousands more people are involved in fatigue related car accidents and hundreds are injured every year. In 2012 the total social cost to NZ including loss of life or life quality, loss of productivity, property damage and associated costs was almost $300million!
Driving tired has a significant affect on reaction times including reduced judgement of speed and distance. The problem of tired drivers has been compared to drunk drivers, a recent study found that people who drove after being awake for extended periods performed the same as those with a blood alcohol reading under the legal limit. Driver fatigue also affects professional drivers in disproportionate numbers, and while that’s understandable, we should all be afraid. Driver fatigue collisions not usually caused by boy-racers, aggressive drivers or other speedsters, they’re random and unpredictable, you don’t see them coming.
Congratulations NZ on the lowest Labour Weekend car accident fatalities since 1977, but remember the 1978 total was horrendous with a spike of 16 road deaths. Stay awake and stay alive.