One in five NSW drivers admit to nodding off at the wheel

Drivers urged to take caution this Easter long weekend

NSW drivers are being warned not to drive tired this Easter long weekend with one in five admitting to having fallen asleep at the wheel, according to new research from GIO.

To make matters worse, these drivers tend to have a companion with them with one in five car passengers confirming their driver had momentarily fallen sleep at the wheel.

GIO spokesperson, Stephen Bell, said: "Easter is one of the busiest times of the year for road accidents and motor insurance claims. While many of us will be taking the opportunity to make the most of the long weekend, it's important not to stretch yourself beyond your limits and keep road safety front of mind."

The worst offenders were young drivers (aged 18 to 24) with almost a third (29%) admitting they had momentarily fallen asleep at the wheel, followed by 23 per cent of drivers aged 25-49, and 15% of drivers over 50.

  • Only a quarter of drivers stop for a break at the recommended two hours
  • More than a third (38%) push themselves past the 2.5 to 3.5 hour mark; and
  • One in five (22%) motorists drive more than four hours without stopping.

Mr Bell said the key for drivers was to plan ahead and make sure they well rested before setting out on the road.

"About 60 per cent of drivers feel anxious about driving over the holiday period because they feel the roads are more dangerous. It's every driver's responsibility to make sure their senses are intact before heading out on the road.

"If you're a passenger and you notice that your driver is tired, encourage them to take a break," he said.

Mr Bell urged parents in particular to be cautious this Easter, with two-thirds of drivers (61%) claiming their children had distracted them from concentrating on the road. More than 40 per cent of parents said they dread taking long car trips with their kids.

Common distractions include kicking the seat or interfering with the driver (80%), fighting with siblings (76%), playing noisily (73%) and loud personal music or video games (55%).
"Children on road trips will inevitably become restless so it's important to plan ahead and schedule regular stops to stretch their legs and take a breather. It's a good idea to also have some car-friendly games or activities to keep them occupied," he said.

GIO's Easter long weekend road safety tips:

  • Get a good night's sleep in the days leading up to your journey – don't leave your packing until the night before.
  • Avoid beginning a trip at the end of a day's work or driving at times when you would normally be asleep (e.g. early hours of the morning).
  • Take a break or change drivers at least every two hours.
  • Don't rely on caffeine, energy drinks, cold air or loud music – the only solution is rest, before and during a long trip.
  • Slow down while driving at night, especially when driving through the country, as animals and other hazards are harder to spot in the dark.