Beat the holiday weekend driving fatigue
Until someone in the company reluctantly told me, I was unaware that those nice people with State logos who give out coffee in the name of driver safety were actually volunteers, people who should be enjoying their Labour Weekend in much the same way as we do.
For some years now, their smiling faces and fluorescent jackets have been seen at roadsides around the country during holiday weekends as they keep people aware of their on-road responsibilities. They also give out sausages and coffee and other goodies.
I hope we're not starting to take them for granted.
They will be on duty at Labour Weekend, so you can beat fatigue at their "State Driver Reviver" rest stops when on the road.
There are solid statistics to justify their efforts. It's not just a gimmick.
Ministry of Transport provisional figures for 2011 show that 32 people died in crashes where fatigue was identified as a factor, while 139 suffered serious injuries and 601 suffered minor injuries.
The total social cost of crashes involving fatigue in 2011 was an estimated $249 million.
"We've been operating Driver Reviver rest stops over the Easter long weekend for eight years," says Mary-Jane Daly, executive general manager of State. "The rest stops are run by volunteers who have taken ownership over driver safety and fatigue.
"Driver fatigue is one road risk we can manage, and we're proud to be able to offer passing drivers a chance to take a break on us."
At Easter this year, thousands stopped at rest stops. About 5500 people in 2100 vehicles pulled in to the five stops nationwide, where State staff handed out a total of 5695 free sausages and 4443 free coffees. Fruit, bottled water and activities for children were also available.
You may be suffering from driver fatigue if you are:
Having trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or holding your head up.
Daydreaming, having wandering or disconnected thoughts, or loss of memory.
Yawning or rubbing your eyes repeatedly.
Drifting from your lane, tailgating or missing signs or exits.
Feeling restless and irritable.
Someone who has recently travelled long distance by air.
If you are driving and begin to feel tired:
Rest - stop and get out of the car for at least 15 minutes as soon as you notice any of the signs of driver fatigue.
Refresh - have something to drink or eat, but avoid even small amounts of alcohol and stick to light foods to stay alert.
Re-energise - pull over somewhere safe if you need to take a nap, but don't sleep for more than 20 minutes, as you may feel groggy. Wait for at least 10 minutes after you wake before you drive again, to make sure you are completely alert.
State staff want to protect what's important to you by helping drivers avoid driver fatigue during Labour Weekend.
Free barista coffee, sausages, fruit and water, along with activities for children, safety information and toilet facilities will be available at:
Ruakaka, Northland, at Uretiti Weigh Station, State Highway 1 (about 30km south of Whangarei), on Monday, October 22, from 10am to 6pm.
Putaruru, Waikato, at the VTNZ Testing Station, State Highway 1 (about 2km south of Putaruru), on Friday, October 19, from 2pm to 6pm, and Saturday, October 20, from 9am to 2pm.
Ohakea, Manawatu, at the Weigh Station, State Highway 1 (2km south of Bulls), Monday, October 22, from 10am to 6pm.
Lewis Pass, Canterbury, Engineers Camp, State Highway 7, on Saturday, October 20, from 10am to 6pm.
Ealing, Canterbury Rest Area, State Highway 1 (about 110km south of Christchurch), on Monday, October 22, from 10am to 6pm.
Do you text while driving?Related story: New radar gun to catch texting drivers
Gear up for that big holiday drive
Tips on how to do a safe river crossing
On the road and prepared for the cold snap