From the moment you pick up your car hire in Nelson airport to the day you return your vehicle to our office, we want you to enjoy every kilometre of your road holiday in our beautiful region. What will add to your enjoyment is a safe time on the roads for you and your family. Being alert behind the wheel is a big contributor to road safety so we thought we’d share some advice on avoiding driver fatigue.
You might be surprised how tiredness impairs your ability to drive. If you were to stay awake for 17 hours and then hop in the car and drive, your driving behaviours will be the same as if you have a blood-alcohol level of 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood – this is the same blood alcohol level as New Zealand’s legal drink-drive limit for drivers 20 years and older. Being awake for 17 hours is an extreme example, but not getting enough sleep will see you starting the next day’s road trip being more fatigued than you realise, and not as sharp as you need to be. To help you avoid that fatigue, we recommend you do this:
- Never drive during the hours when you’re normally sleeping e.g. between 10 pm and 6 am.
- Stay overnight rather than battling fatigue on longer journeys.
- Take a break every two hours or every 100km.
- Get out of the car and walk around during your break.
- You might be on holiday but do try and eat as many healthy and fresh meals as you can at your usual times.
- Avoid large meals and fatty, sugary foods during the day as these could make you sleepy. It’s best to indulge in these things at night once you’ve finished driving for the day.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay alert. Water is the best thing to drink.
- Let fresh air into the vehicle and avoid using the recirculating-air function.
- Talking to someone or listening to music can help you to stay alert.
- Share the driving if you can. For insurance purposes, your fellow drivers will need to fill in the necessary paperwork when picking up your vehicle from us.
- Avoid taking any medications before you drive that will make you sleepy. Read the information sheets that come with your medication to check for side effects.
If you do feel sleepy despite your best efforts, and there’s no one to share the driving, here are a few things you can do:
- Pull over immediately in a safe place, move to a passenger seat, and nap for 20 minutes.
- Don’t nap for more than 40 minutes as you’ll feel groggy when you wake up. Have someone wake you after 20 minutes or set the alarm on your smartphone.
- Once you wake up, take a walk around the vehicle to help you become more alert.
- Wait at least 10 minutes after waking up before hitting the road again.
A few basic tips like this will keep you on top of your game while you’re behind the wheel of your rental vehicle. Your safety is our priority and we want you to come back to Nelson airport feeling fresh and happy after a memorable holiday in this beautiful part of the world.