Don't risk festive fatigue on the highway these holidays

21 December 2010

Two out of five SA drivers will be hitting the highway for more than five hours this holiday period but many may not be taking regular breaks to ensure they’re alert at the wheel, according to new research from SGIC*.

A survey of 500 SA drivers found one in three SA drivers don’t always take a break every two hours when driving long distances, putting them at higher risk of a collision.

SGIC spokesperson Rob Cory said we want SA drivers to arrive safely at their destinations this holiday period.

“Our research showed us that almost 30 per cent of SA will be heading on a long trip this Christmas holiday, so we want to encourage drivers to take regular breaks and where possible, share the driving,” said Mr Cory.

The survey also found the triggers for stress while at the wheel on long journeys including:

  • keeping aware of trucks on the road (more than 55 per cent);
  • additional cars on the road (around 50 per cent);
  • staying alert for the entire trip (almost 40 per cent);
  • rushing to get to their destination (25 per cent); and
  • entertaining kids in the backseat (17 per cent).

“We understand the Christmas and holiday period is busy and can be stressful with various commitments but SA drivers shouldn’t compromise their safety to reach their destination sooner.

“SA drivers should also be aware that in car distractions like eating, drinking, using a GPS and trying to entertain kids in the backseat, all encourage the driver to take their eyes off the road and therefore be at higher risk of having a collision.

“We’re calling for all SA drivers to be alert on the roads and if you start to feel the symptoms of fatigue, pull over and have a break,” said Mr Cory.

SGIC recommends the following tips for drivers:

  • make sure you are well rested before starting your trip;
  • take a break from driving at least every two hours to stay alert;
  • don’t drive when you would normally be asleep;
  • include an overnight stop on long trips to stay fresh;
  • plan ahead – provide food, entertainment and activities to keep the kids occupied so you can concentrate on the road;
  • always turn on your headlights in wet or poor weather; and
  • pull over if you need to use your mobile phone to call your destination.

* Based on a survey of 500 SA drivers by Pure Profile Research in October 2010.