Wellington Police District and the Accident Compensation Corporation today launched an innovative road safety campaign aimed at raising commercial driver and company awareness of fatigue, including the lack of awareness as a causal link in fatal and injury crashes.
Driver fatigue was identified as a contributing factor in 11 percent of fatal crash and six percent of injury crashes per year on New Zealand roads between 2002 and 2004 (134 fatal crashes and 1703 injury crashes). The true level is thought to be higher.
Using the Health and Safety in Employment Act (HSEA) as an education tool, all drivers now stopped for speed, red light running, careless driving, lane drift and other trauma promoting or injury related offences will, in addition to an infringement notice, be given a leaflet highlighting fatigue as a road safety risk.
Driver's employment/contractor details will be gathered and followed up by letter to employers advising them of the incident and drawing attention to workplace safe driving policies.
"Tired drivers are dangerous drivers," says Inspector Peter Baird, Wellington District Road Policing Manager. "Fatigue includes a lack of concentration, the inability to good judgements, speed, and other poor driving behaviours.
"Fatigue features in a high number of single vehicle crashes involving cars or trucks striking trees, other rigid objects or serious head on crashes.
"By the time drivers realise they're tired and making mistakes it's often too late," he says. "This campaign, which has been operating successfully in the Central and Bay of Plenty Districts in the last two years aims to identify poor practice and positively shift driver and company attitudes.
"Safe workplaces include the roads," he says.
Fatigue is more than tiredness and includes the inability to put effort into the task. That means the inability to drive safely. If the driver demonstrating poor driving as a matter of choice their actions are still linked to the employer/contractor responsibilities under the HSEA.
"Fatigue is a serious issue on our roads," says Katie Sadleir, ACC's General Manager for Injury Prevention. "Being fatigued simply means that your responses are slower than normal and your judgment can be impaired. This can result in a loss of concentration that can cause serious injuries."
The campaign initiative is also supported by the Department of Labour, Ministry of Transport and Land Transport New Zealand. Data is collated in a special web based data warehouse, accessed and analysed by both Police and ACC in line with each agency's needs.
Details such as the time, date, place and company or business details are retrieved and used to raise awareness within the business and transport industry of fatigue and poor driving as an important road safety issue. Companies or businesses which regularly feature are provided with feedback and advice on how to minimise risks and make the workplace safer for their staff.
"We know from the experience of the Central and Bay of Plenty Police Districts that not all commercial drivers stopped are governed by logbooks and regulated driving hours," Inspector Baird says.
"Some companies put unrealistic requirements on staff in driving from one location to another. Sometimes it's a case of individual drivers putting those expectations on themselves.
"Staying fresh and alert on the roads is just as important for taxi or courier drivers, business people flying into Wellington and getting a rental car for a trip to the Wairarapa and back and people working long hours or double shifts in a factory or office as it is for the local pizza outlet delivering you your dinner."
Inspector Baird says the notification and educative approach are a "free good" for businesses who may be unaware of these events occurring and for the individual drivers.
"Influencing driver attitudes and bringing about safer roads is more than issuing an infringement notice," he says. "Education and enforcement go hand in hand.
"A collaborative multi agency approach, free and frank discussion with commercial operators, the road transport industry and with the general motoring public is the best way to make a difference."
Wellington Police: Inspector Peter Baird
Wellington District Road Policing Manager
Tel: 04 496 3441
Mob: 027 224 5077
ACC: Sandra Nelson
Programme Manager: Workplace Impairment
Tel: 09 915 9405
Mob: 027 280 4068
Wellington Police District communications manager
Tel: 04 496 3464