Driving non-stop and without getting proper sleep are seen as major factors for rise in road accidents on highways, according to Transport Department officials. With many roads in good shape, drivers claim to be less fatigued, but it has come to light that many drivers travelling long-distance lack proper sleep.

At a road safety council meeting held here a few days ago, State Transport Commissioner M. Rajaram appealed to the members to take adequate care while driving on the roads. Every motorist must be responsible, attentive and concentrate on their driving.

Lorry drivers operating on long-distance routes lacked proper sleep, it has come to light. Interaction with drivers and conductors on different stretches during a period of 30 days by various government and non-governmental agencies indicated that a majority of the drivers, in a bid to reach the destination soon, avoided proper rest. Many took food at odd hours and consumed in small quantities. This not only reflected on the poor performance of driving, but resulted in deterioration of health.

Mr. Rajaram stressed the fleet operators to take note of these deficiencies and insisted on obeying traffic rules while parking along National Highways. “Drivers should park the vehicles only on allotted bay/zones as haphazard parking without hazard lights/reflective stickers, led to accidents. A drive to check whether heavy vehicles had reflective tapes will be conducted across the State on August 30,” he said.

Sleep disorder

Lack of sleep can cause or lead to diseases, said K. Lakshmi Priya, consultant Pulmonologist and critical care and sleep medicine expert at Vadamalayan Hospitals. Recommending that an eight hour sleep would be ideal for any normal person, she said that lack of sleep or split sleep may drive a person to disorders and end up in diseases. Sleep apnoea leads to heart failure, coronary heart disease and stroke, she told The Hindu.

Lorry drivers who operate on long distance routes also suffered from diabetes, hypertension and loneliness. Away from home and family members caused anxiety. Whenever they were on rest (away from home), a majority of them consumed alcohol or were found to be chain smokers, NGOs engaged in the Tamil Nadu Aids Control Society said.

Superintendent of Police M. Manohar said that mobile patrol police personnel had been asked to educate lorry drivers to park their vehicles only on space provided for parking on the four-lane highways. Using wrong side of the road would be viewed seriously, he said.

Similarly, drivers found talking on their mobile phones while driving are fined. At night, vehicles parking along the roads should use blinkers and reflective tapes are essential on both sides (front and rear) to prevent accidents, he added.

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