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Disclaimer: This information is general in nature only. While Budget Direct has endeavoured to ensure the information we’ve relied on is accurate and current, we do not guarantee it. Budget Direct accepts no liability for this information.

Fatigue can be defined as extreme tiredness caused by a lack of sleep, not enough rest or excessive mental or physical exertion. Despite this, most people underestimate what their body is telling them, and still get behind the wheel of a vehicle every day.

Sleep-deprived driving (commonly known as driver fatigue) is one of the main contributors to road accidents every day and approximately 30% of young drivers (16 to 24) are involved in fatigue-related crashes.

On average 31 people are killed and 462 seriously injured each year on Queensland roads as a result of crashes where fatigue played a part [1].

Did you know?

  • Being awake for 17 hours poses the same risk of a crash as drivers with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) reading of 0.05 g/100ml [2]
  • 1 in 3 people have experienced micro sleeping behind the wheel
  • Fatigue-related crashes are almost three times as likely to be fatal than crashes not involving fatigued - drivers who are asleep can't brake [3].

See more of Budget Direct’s Road Safety guides.

Tips to manage driver fatigue

When trying to manage fatigue while driving there is one main tip you should keep in mind; get enough sleep.

  • Plan to take a break every 2 hours for up to 15 minutes at a time
  • Don’t drive for more than 10 hours a day
  • Avoid driving during times where you’d normally be asleep
  • Avoid long drives after a day’s work
  • Prepare your drive ahead by planning when and where you’re going to take breaks.

If you feel tired when driving, make sure you:

  • Pull over in a safe place (such as a rest area or ‘driver reviver’ site) and take a break or even a nap
  • When possible, share the driving.

What are the warning signs of driver fatigue?

Signs of fatigue can vary depending on your body and how long you have been awake. While driver fatigue is preventable sometimes it’s the oncoming signs that can be the hardest to spot.

Physical signs of fatigue:

  • Restlessness
  • Sore eyes 
  • Heavy eyelids 
  • Eyes closing
  • Frequent blinking 
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Headaches 
  • Yawning  
  • Microsleeping

Mental signs of fatigue:

  • Difficulty maintaining concentration   
  • A loss of focus
  • Slower reaction times
  • Wandering thoughts 
  • Slowing unintentionally 
  • Missing a gear 
  • Missing a road sign or exit  
  • Braking too late

You may also experience signs of fatigue if you are:

  • Under the influence of alcohol
  • Under the influence of drugs 
  • Taking prescription medication
  • Experiencing extreme hunger  
  • Experiencing low blood sugar levels

See all of Budget Direct’s road-safety guides


[1] Department of Transport and Main Roads QLD. Unpublished data extracted 27 June 2018 using road casualty statistics 2013-2017
[2] Transport for NSW, 29 April 2021, Centre for Road Safety
[3] Transport Accident Commission, Fatigue Statistics