ICBC warns of drowsy driving for B.C. long weekend in Okanagan

‘Driver fatigue related crashes soar in August’ says ICBC

photo from ICBC

As temperatures rise during the summer months in our province, so do driver fatigue-related crashes. By August, these incidents peak with one person killed and 88 people injured in 110 crashes for the month despite fatigue being under-reported.

Hot summer weather and long drives can be a dangerous combination that can cause fatigue. Startlingly, over every B.C. Day long weekend, about 600 people are injured and three are killed in 2,200 crashes.

If you’re hitting the road this long weekend, ICBC is asking you to make sure you’re properly rested, hydrated and taking breaks from driving every two hours to reduce your risk of crashing.

Related: Kelowna cops crack down on drivers using cell phones

Driving while fatigued is an impairment which can be just as deadly as any other. It slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment. Even a slight decrease in your reaction time can greatly increase your risk of crashing especially when travelling at highway speeds.

Travel in the morning. Drivers are prone to drowsy driving in the late-afternoon and at night when the body’s circadian rhythm dips. Avoid driving during the night when you’d normally be asleep.

As soon as you become sleepy, the key is to stop driving. Let a passenger drive or pull over when it’s safe, turn off your car and take a nap. The only cure for sleepiness is sleep. Opening a window, blasting the air conditioning or turning on music are not effective ways to keep you awake while driving.

Related: Driving Change: A Kelowna man’s charitable trip across Canada

Leave enough following distance to give yourself time to react in case another driver on the road is impaired by fatigue. You can also look for warning signs such as a vehicle wandering out of its lane or its speed creeping up and down.

Over the B.C. Day long weekend, in the Southern Interior, an average of 97 people are injured in 370 crashes every year.

In the Southern Interior, on average, five people are killed and 160 are injured in 210 crashes involving driver fatigue every year. In August, 25 people are injured in 30 crashes.

In B.C., on average, nine people are killed and 620 injured in 850 crashes involving driver fatigue every year. In August, one person is killed and 88 are injured in 110 crashes.

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Warning signs of fatigue and ICBC’s Drive Smart tips:

Fatigue can sneak up on you when you’re driving. It’s important to learn the warning signs:

  • You don’t notice a vehicle until it suddenly passes you.
  • You don’t recall driving the last few kilometres.
  • You’re yawning or daydreaming.
  • Your speed creeps up or down.
  • You find yourself wandering into the next lane, shoulder or centre line.
  • Your eyes feel heavy or you have difficulty keeping your head up.

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