Driver fatigue increases State road toll

Driver fatigue increases State road toll

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Green Shirts Movement WA spokesman Alan Sattler is recovering from a serious motor vehicle incident.

Green Shirts Movement WA spokesman Alan Sattler is recovering from a serious motor vehicle incident.

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Tired male drivers are the most likely to be involved in a serious or fatal road accident, according to WA Road Safety Council statistics.

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TIRED male drivers are the most likely to be involved in a serious or fatal road accident, according to WA Road Safety Council statistics.

Road Safety Council chairman Iain Cameron said men were "over-represented in fatal and serious injury crash statistics in Western Australia, with 119 males (75 per cent) losing their lives on our roads last year".

"Of those men, 71 died on regional roads," Mr Cameron said.

He said the 2018 preliminary crash statistics revealed that the vast majority of men who lost their lives on regional WA roads died in crashes where investigators detected a risk-taking behaviour was a factor, such as speeding or driving after drinking alcohol.

Other factors, however, contributed to serious accidents.

"The majority of crashes on WA roads, about 7 out of 10, are caused by someone making a simple mistake, perhaps a little tired or fatigued or their minds wander and they fail to pay attention to what is happening on the road," he said.

"Our 2018 preliminary statistics reflect that in regional WA, the breakdown of males and females killed in fatigue and inattention-related crashes was about 50:50.

"Fatigue is a silent killer and there are two key myths about fatigue that need busting to help us be safe, the physical warning signs such as your eyes closing, yawning or your head drooping, come too late, it is the early warning mental signs such as missing a turn off, missing the last song on the radio, or not remembering driving the last few kilometres, that people need to be aware of.

"Fatigue is determined by how long you have been awake, the quality of sleep you get, not just how long you have been driving."

He said shift workers and people with interrupted sleep were at greater risk.

"So, no matter how long you have been driving, the advice is to recognise the early mental signs of fatigue and take regular breaks - grab a coffee, take a walk for a few minutes and if you can, swap drivers before continuing your journey safely," he said.

"A short power nap of up to 10 minutes, safely parked, can help but longer sleeps can bring about greater fatigue risk."

There is a potential link or overlap between fatigue and distraction or inattention crashes as a person tires.

"Distracted driving or inattention is rising as a cause of death and serious injury in WA, with a 70 per cent increase in the number of road deaths linked to inattention crashes last year compared to the previous five years," Mr Cameron said.

Road Safety Council of WA statistics show that the State's road toll is on track to be one of the highest in a decade with 83 deaths recorded from January 1-June 10.

Forty six of those were in regional WA.

That is the highest road toll since 2016 and the second highest in the last decade - so far this year.

A shocking 505 people died on WA roads from 2013 to 2017, with 4147 people killed or seriously injured.

Males represented 55.4pc of the total, with 26.5pc being between the age of 20-29.

Fatigue was a factor in 22.9pc of incidents - though that rose to 31pc in the Wheatbelt and 34pc in the Great Southern.

Speed was a factor in 15.8pc of accidents across the State, although that also rose to 19pc in the Wheatbelt and a massive 68pc on Great Southern roads with a 110 kilometre speed limit.

The Road Safety Council's website explains that "most Australian jurisdictions, including WA, do not formally report statistics for the involvement of fatigue in crashes because of concerns over the valid and reliable measurement of the construct".

"Police who attend crashes often make judgements about fatigue as a contributing factor, as is the case in WA," the council said.

The issue of driver fatigue came to light in recent weeks after Green Shirts Movement WA spokesman Alan Sattler experienced a serious, near fatal crash, after a long day behind the wheel.

On May 24, Mr Sattler, who operates two farms in Beverley and Kellerberrin, had been awake for 19-20 hours and spent a great portion of it running errands for work.

Photos of the incident, which he posted on social media, show that he collided with a tree, writing off his new Toyota Land Cruiser.

Mr Sattler said he didn't remember even being on the road where the accident happened.

"Fatigue is a killer," Mr Sattler said, after four weeks in hospital recovering from broken bones and surgery.

"You just don't know - next thing it's all over."

Mr Sattler is not sure how long he will remain in hospital but is in the recovery process and looking forward to getting back to the farm.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA president Tony Seabrook was shocked to hear of Mr Sattler's accident at the time and said with the lifestyle that farmers lived, it could happen to anyone.

"We are all under pressure (especially during seeding and harvest)," Mr Seabrook said.

"There's not enough staff on the farm and there's so much that needs to get done.

"Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves to back off and look after ourselves because one day it could happen to us."

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