Danger zone at Urunga

DRIVER fatigue research points to Urunga as being a dangerous ‘nod-off zone', where motorists face a greater risk of being killed by a micro-sleep.

Situated roughly six hours from Sydney (504km) and Brisbane (440km), the Pacific Highway problem is said to be compounded by single lane stretches and reduced speed limits through Kempsey and Coffs Harbour.

Professor Drew Dawson of the University of South Australia's Sleep Research Centre said yesterday if drivers haven't stopped for breaks every two hours, by the sixth-hour mark they show signs of fatigue.

He said a lack of sleep the night or morning before driving was also a major contributing factor to accidents.

“People who have less than five hours sleep in the 24 hours prior to getting behind the wheel face an elevated chance of a having a micro-sleep and crashing,” he said.

“The same is found for those who have less than 12 hours sleep in a 48-hour period before travelling.”

He said more fatal accidents occur between 4am and 6am and 2pm and 4pm than any time of the day.

“If you take this into account, all the research indicates that if you are well rested and drive between 9am and 9pm generally you face less risk of being involved in a fatal accident, depending, of course, on the road conditions.”



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