ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Turning research into public education: “Don’t trust your tired self”

Fernandes, R, Walker, E, Suchard, G, Wilson, V

Impaired driving


Fatigue is one of the top three behavioural issues that contribute to death and injury on NSW roads. With no direct enforcement measures for fatigue available, the drive to self-awareness and self-regulation lies with public education campaigns. Research was conducted in 2012 to understand NSW drivers’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in relation to fatigue and inform a new public education campaign. The results suggested fatigue was not considered as serious a road safety issue as drink driving, or to some extent speeding. Fatigue was recognised as an issue on long trips, however not on short trips. It was more closely associated with night-time driving, whereas the research indicated fatigue was also experienced during the afternoon – particularly among older drivers. Of particular concern were: drivers’ uncertainty about when their level of tiredness becomes a danger; limited pre-planning of trips; and the desire to push on, primarily among younger drivers. The campaign aimed to address these issues by raising the significance of fatigue, and encouraging self-analysis. “Don’t Trust Your Tired Self” uses the behaviour change technique of ‘anchoring’ and positions fatigue in line with other more broadly recognised road safety issues to highlight its seriousness. Campaign executions present day and night, metro and rural locations to highlight that fatigue can happen on any journey, whatever time of day and no matter how long or short. Drivers are provided with campaign tools to self-assess their fatigue levels prior to driving, and learn strategies to avoid driving tired. Initial results of the campaign, including the online self-test component, are very positive.