Tests have shown that driving on less than five hours sleep triples the risk of having a crash and just being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.
Tests have shown that driving on less than five hours sleep triples the risk of having a crash and just being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Contributed

Less then five hours sleep triples car crash risk

WHETHER it's drug addiction, concussions in contact sport or that one punch can kill, medical advances are providing a fascinating insight into the workings of the human brain.

Another such area is sleep deprivation, where we're only just becoming aware of how drastically fatigue affects basic functions, such as reaction time and peripheral vision. Two rather important factors in driving, I'm sure you'd agree.

Joe Fitzgerald.
Joe Fitzgerald.

Tests have shown that driving on less than five hours sleep triples the risk of having a crash and just being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.05%.

It's scary to consider that this is a risk many motorists are taking on a daily basis. Let me rephrase - I am scared that I'm taking that risk almost every day.

Unlike the other "fatal five" risks - distraction, speed, alcohol and not wearing a seatbelt - it is almost impossible to police fatigue. As individuals, it's up to us to be responsible and not push the limit.

Driving fatigued isn't just about falling asleep at the wheel or even micro-sleeping, because your reaction time and peripheral vision are affected well before your head starts to nod.

RACQ has just released a video on the issue, featuring specialists from the Mater Hospital's Queensland Sleep Disorders Unit, who provided valuable input on the physiological effects of sleep deprivation.

The reality is that the only cure for fatigue is sleep. So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have a nap.

The RACQ TV episode on fatigue can be viewed at www.youtube.com/racqofficial



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