Long-distance driving is known to play havoc on the mind, hypnotising exhausted drivers to the point of simply nodding off at the wheel, their vehicles veering off the road or into oncoming traffic.
Realising the dangers of exhausted drivers on the road, the Western Cape Traffic Department decided it was time to start enforcing nap time for public transport drivers.
Long-distance taxi, bus and truck operators have their own time pressures – with passengers keen to get to their destinations, customers waiting on stock and bosses pushing them to arrive, turn around and do it all over again.
But all it takes is a split second unintentional nod-off at the wheel to cause a massive tragedy, due to “driver fatigue”.
The dreaded long stretch between Beaufort West and Laingsburg in either searing heat during the day, or endless monotony during the night, has a reputation for lulling drivers to sleep.
Provincial Traffic Chief Kenny Africa said the department decided to try out a programme to pull over motorists along that long stretch simply to check if they were tired.
It has been going for a few years, and has been a success in contributing to reducing fatalities.
Between December 1, 2019 and January 15, 2020, the Western Cape reported 160 road fatalities, compared with 207 in 2018.
In total 5 445 719 vehicles entered the province in 2019, compared to 4 908 481 in 2018.