Source: The Mercury, Thursday June 11, 1998, p.3
Warning: don't kick on all night BLEARY soccer fans beware! Staying up all night to watch the World Cup could have the same effect on your ability to drive to work as drinking a couple of stiff scotches for breakfast. University of South Australia sleep researchers warn that fatigue affects people's ability to perform tasks as much as, if not more than, having a blood alcohol level of .05 or above. By PAUL MOLLOY DRIVERS travelling just 5kmh over the 60kmh limit on urban roads are as dangerous as drink- drivers, a Federal Government report shows. Now drivers could face tougher penalties, reduced urban speed limits and a police crackdown on moderate speeding in the wake of the shock report. The three-year Federal Office of Road Safety study said the chance of a crash involving casualties doubled for every 5kmh increase above 60kmh on urban roads. The study's findings, obtained by The Mercury and other News Ltd papers, said the risk of a crash travelling at 65kmh was the same as if the driver had a blood alcohol content of .05. Driving 10kmh over the speed limit increased the risk of a casualty crash fourfold and was the equivalent of driving with .1 blood alcohol. Federal Transport Minister Mark Vaile said the re- search demolished the widely held belief it was safe to drive 5-1Okmh above the limit. Mr Vaile also backed action by the states to tackle the problem, including tougher penalties and lower tolerance of drivers slightly exceeding speed limits. Industry sources said police informally gave drivers the benefit of the doubt if they were travelling at speeds within 10% of the speed limit. But police may be required in future to crack down on any deviation from the limit. Mr Vaile has been advised that speeding causes significantly more casualty crashes than drink-driving in urban areas. More than two-thirds of the 151 crashed vehicles in the survey occurred at speeds below 75kmh. The FORS report said lower posted limits on local streets would significantly reduce road trauma at minimal cost to the community. The Australian Automobile Association reacted cautiously to proposals for tougher speeding penalties. An AAA spokesman said it was more important to have speed limits which were most appropriate for the area and strict enforcement of those limits to get driver compliance. The FORS research will play a key role in a national road safety summit to be held in September.
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