Fatigue has been recognised as the primary contributing factor in approximately 15% of all fatal road crashes in Australia. To develop effective countermeasures for managing fatigue, this study investigates why drivers continue to drive when sleepy, and driver perceptions and behaviours in regards to countermeasures. Based on responses from 305 Australian drivers, it was identified that the major reasons why these participants continued to drive when sleepy were: wanting to get to their destination; being close to home; and time factors.

Participants’ perceptions and use of 18 fatigue countermeasures were investigated. It was found that participants perceived the safest strategies, including stopping and sleeping, swapping drivers and stopping for a quick nap, to be the most effective countermeasures. However, it appeared that their knowledge of safe countermeasures did not translate into their use of these strategies.

For example, although the drivers perceived stopping for a quick nap to be an effective countermeasure, they reported more frequent use of less safe methods such as stopping to eat or drink and winding down the window. This finding suggests that, while practitioners should continue educating drivers, they may need a greater focus on motivating drivers to implement safe fatigue countermeasures.