Media Advisory - Drowsy drivers put themselves and others at risk

    Wednesday, May 16 is Fatigue Impairment Awareness Day

    TORONTO, May 10 /CNW/ - Every year, more than 400 Canadians die and more
are injured because drivers take the wheel despite being drowsy or tired. In
fact, at least 20% of Canadians admit they have nodded off at the wheel in the
past 12 months.
    Driver fatigue impairment is not just a problem for long-distance truck
or bus drivers; it can affect all drivers.

        -  How can we deal with this growing problem?
        -  How can drivers recognize the signs of fatigue impairment and take
           preventative action?
        -  What can governments do?
        -  Can the police play a role?

    The Highway Safety Roundtable marks the 2nd Fatigue Impairment Awareness
Day on May 16 to raise awareness about the dangers of driving tired, and to
provide Canadians with information and resources to help prevent deaths and
injuries caused by fatigue impairment.

    Spokespeople across the country will be available leading up to and on
May 16 to discuss this important issue.

    The Highway Safety Roundtable includes the Brewers of Canada, Canada
Safety Council, Canadian Automobile Association, Insurance Bureau of Canada,
Railway Association of Canada and Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

    Note to editors: A backgrounder on Driver Fatigue Impairment will be
    available via CNW on May 10 or from IBC media contacts.

               Media Backgrounder - Driver Fatigue Impairment

    What is Fatigue Impairment?

    Most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving but don't
realize that driving while drowsy can be just as fatal. Like alcohol, fatigue
slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgment and increases the
risk of crashing. In fact, studies show that if you go without sleep for 17
hours straight, you suffer from a level of impairment that is equal to having
a blood alcohol level of .05%. If you go without sleep for 24 hours, the
impairment is equal to having a .1% blood alcohol level. The Criminal Code of
Canada specifies that the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.08%.

    What causes Fatigue Impairment?

    There are many underlying causes of fatigue, including:

        -  too little sleep;
        -  interrupted or fragmented sleep;
        -  chronic sleep debt (too little, or poor-quality sleep over an
           extended period of time);
        -  long periods of time awake and/or time spent on task;
        -  ignoring your internal clock (e.g., some people are less alert in
           the middle of the afternoon);
        -  time of day;
        -  extreme/irregular driving patterns or work schedules;
        -  undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders;
        -  use of medications that have sedative effects; and
        -  consumption of alcohol when already tired.

    These factors have cumulative effects and a combination of any of these
while driving can greatly increase one's risk of a fatigue-related crash.

    Who is most at risk?

        -  commercial vehicle drivers
        -  new/young drivers, especially young men
        -  shift and split-shift workers
        -  people suffering from sleep disorders
        -  drivers whose lifestyle affects the quality and
           quantity of their sleep

    What are the signs of driver fatigue?

        -  loss of concentration             -  irritability
        -  drowsiness and yawning            -  missing road signs
        -  slow reactions                    -  drifting out of your lane
        -  sore or tired eyes                -  nodding off
        -  boredom

    What are the effects of Driver Fatigue Impairment?

    At least 20% of Canadians - an estimated 4.1 million people - admit they
have nodded off at the wheel in the past 12 months.
    Every year, more than 400 Canadians die and more are injured because of
drowsy or tired drivers.

    How can Driver Fatigue Impairment be prevented?

    Here are some simple things you can do to make sure you stay awake and
alert behind the wheel:

        -  Start your trip well rested.
        -  Plan the trip in a way that lets you maximize periods of
           sleep and rest.
        -  Plan breaks every two hours.
        -  Avoid driving between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.
        -  If you're out late, sleep over or call a taxi.
        -  When driving long distances, take frequent breaks. Stop to
           stretch, or just to give your mind a break.
        -  Most importantly, if you notice you're tired, pull off the road to
           a safe spot and have a nap.

    What is being done to reduce fatigue-related accidents?

    Canada's official strategy to fight fatigue impairment was adopted in
December 2004. It is part of Road Safety Vision: 2010, a plan to make Canada's
highways the safest in the world. The strategy is based on lessons learned
from past campaigns that aimed to encourage seatbelt use and prevent drinking
and driving. The strategy document sets out objectives in terms of:

        -  research                            - road infrastructure/
        -  public education and awareness        standards
        -  role of enforcement                 - legislative/regulatory

    Historically, there have been few programs in Canada to counter drowsy
driving. In contrast, the United Kingdom and Australia have been running
public service announcements and educational programs since 1999. The Driver
Fatigue Symposium presented by the Highway Safety Roundtable is a step in the
direction of Canada's Road Safety Vision, as it aims to educate Canadians
about dangerous driving habits, including driving while fatigued.
    The Highway Safety Roundtable is composed of the Brewers of Canada,
Canada Safety Council, Canadian Automobile Association, Insurance Bureau of
Canada, Railway Association of Canada, and Tourism Industry Association of

       For more information on Driver Fatigue Impairment, please visit

For further information:

For further information: Ellen Woodger at (416) 483-2358 or James
Geuzebroek, IBC, at (416) 362-2031

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