The Road Safety Authority is highlighting the dangers of driver fatigue in the run up to the Bank Holiday weekend after RSA research showed that one in seven (14 per cent ) of Irish drivers admitted to nodding off while driving.
Recently the RSA and Topaz, the country’s largest fuels and convenience retailer, agreed to team up for a year long Driver Reviver campaign after it emerged that fatigue could have been responsible for up to 350 deaths on Irish roads over the last five years.
Today (Friday ), Topaz will be giving away up to 20,000 free coffees at its 105 company owned stations to help people get to their destinations safely. Posters advertising the free coffees will be in place outside all participating stations.
Noel Brett, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, urged drivers, particularly any who are feeling tired, to avail of free coffee at participating Topaz stations. “On Bank Holiday weekends there’s more traffic on the roads, more people will be travelling long distances, often without breaks. Opening windows or turning on radios is not the answer. Scientific studies show that if a driver persists in fighting sleep while driving, the impairment level is the same as driving while over the drink drive limit.
“To drivers we say; if you are fighting sleep at the wheel, stop immediately. If you can, drink a cup of coffee or caffeine drink but most importantly take a 15 to 20 minute nap in a safe location. When you wake, stretch your legs and you should be able to drive for another hour or more. Never drive if you are fighting sleep or you may never wake up,” warned Mr Brett.
Topaz area manager for Mayo, Áine Ní Fhlathuin said: “We are delighted to support the lifesaving work of the RSA in a practical way and at a community level with this Driver Reviver campaign. All drivers have to do is show their car keys to staff at participating Topaz service stations and request a free coffee. If one accident is prevented due to this campaign it will be a success.”