Home > News > Archive > 1st September 2004

Thumbs up for fatigue stop

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

246041ADBy Cathy Asplin

The first of two local fatigue stops on State Highway 39 was given a big ‘thumbs up’ by motorists on Sunday night.

The police stop at Ngahinapouri processed over 800 cars between 6pm and 9pm on Sunday evening - one of the busiest times on this stretch of road as skiers return from the central plateau at the end of the weekend.

Each driver was spoken to about the distance they had driven and the need for breaks when travelling long distances.

They were also breath tested, then given information and peppermints, before being invited to pull off the road to enjoy a free sausage sizzle, soup or hot drinks outside the hall.

With braziers blazing and the hall open for shelter or a comfort stop, around 10% of travellers took up the opportunity to take a break.

Most signed the visitors book and comments were hugely supportive of the concept. Auckland snowboarders Gareth Lewis, Fraser Clements and Phil Stoddard were happy to enjoy the hospitality offered by the Ngahinapouri School PTA. Driver Gareth Lewis admitted the stop came at the right time for him.
“I must admit I was starting to feel a bit drowsy. It was minus 11 degrees on the mountain and after a long day on the slopes we jumped straight in the car to head home.
“After being in a warm car and driving for several hours you start to feel really tired and the concentration drops off.”

Whangarei residents Greg Tucker, Willie Bowmar and Nancy Bowmar were on their way home from Turoa and said they normally stopped at Mercer for a break and something to eat. “But this is a wonderful change - its great to stretch the legs, stand around the braziers and have some hot food and drinks served up. What a neat idea!”

246046ADThe fatigue stop was a great example of co-operation between Police, road safety coordinators and the local community.

Waipa Road Safety Co-ordinator Megan Jolly says they have a noticed a large increase in the use of State Highway 39 (Otorohanga-Pirongia-Ngahinapouri -Te Kowhai- Ngaruawahia) during winter months and crash statistics reveal a peak in the middle of winter.
“It is widely recognised that driver fatigue as a contributing factor in crashes is under-reported - several categories such as speeding, loss of control, inattention and failure to give way can all be linked to driver fatigue.
“There is little statistical data available on the correlation between skiers and driver fatigue, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that after a hard day’s skiing or snowboarding many people are returning home after a full day on the mountain feeling tired.
“Aspects of the campaign have obviously targetted skiers travelling on this road, however, we hope the attention of the general public can also be captured to remind everyone that driving while tired can be dangerous.
“The fatigue stop at Ngahinapouri was hugely successful and the next stop has already been planned for Pirongia.”