Driving tired

Fatigue isn't just about falling asleep while driving. Brief lapses in concentration can have serious consequences.

On average, between 2015 to 2019, approximately 12% of lives lost on Queensland roads were from fatigue-related crashes. This figure is likely to be higher, as it can be difficult to tell when fatigue is a contributing factor in crashes.

It is important to recognise the warning signs of fatigue and take appropriate action.

Being awake for more than 17 hours has a similar effect on performance as having a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.05. So don't put yourself at risk.

Warning signs of tiredness

The risks of driving when tired apply even when you do not fall asleep at the wheel. Even short lapses in concentration caused by tiredness or drowsiness can have serious consequences on your driving.

When you are experiencing fatigue, your brain can have short periods of sleep called microsleeps. Microsleeps can last from a fraction of a second, up to 10 full seconds. You can't control them.

It is important to recognise the warning signs of tiredness. These include:

  • yawning
  • noticing your eyes closing for a moment or going out of focus
  • blinking more than usual
  • feeling drowsy, tired or exhausted
  • having trouble keeping your head up
  • forgetting the previous few minutes of driving
  • starting to 'see' things
  • droning and humming in ears
  • general tiredness
  • stiffness and cramps
  • aches and pains
  • daydreaming
  • experiencing slower reaction times
  • changing speed without reason
  • fumbling for gear changes
  • drifting in the lane or over lane lines.

Tips to avoid driving tired

Before driving:

  • get a good night's sleep
  • avoid driving at times you normally sleep
  • avoid long drives after a day's work
  • understand the effects any medicine you're taking might have on your driving
  • plan ahead – work out rest stops and overnight stops.

When driving:

  • take regular breaks – you should stop for at least 15 minutes every 2 hours
  • share the driving if you can
  • use rest areas, tourist spots and driver reviver stops
  • stop and rest as soon as you feel tired
  • never drive for more than 10 hours in a single day

Read more on driver reviver and rest areas.

Wide centre line and audible tactile line marking

Wide centre line treatments replace the existing dividing centre line/s on a road with 2 new lines approximately 1m apart. This creates a greater distance between opposing directions of traffic. Extra distance between opposing directions of traffic provide additional reaction time if a driver unintentionally drifts across the centre line towards oncoming traffic.

Audible tactile line marking are small raised white bumps that alert motorists through sound and vibration when they are veering out of their lane into oncoming traffic or the edge of the road.