Finals – Driver-Fatigue Failure.

The shuffling of feet and hushed voices quiets down at the sound of the second bell – everyone settles into their desks for final exams. The atmosphere is tense and in these last few days before summer break – before high school comes to a close there is excitement palpable and a nervous energy for all that is yet to come.

Amongst this typical classroom scene of heads bowed down in strained focus, there is one piece missing the instructor notices after attendance call – one student is missing. No one in the room knows the severity yet of what the empty desk in the fourth row means. They are busy working their way through the questions and will later, aside from comparing the answers they chose, they will ask one another – has anyone seen Brian?

Brian Denser was an average student, his grades were in the 74th percentile, he ran track and played rugby and was liked by everyone. He didn’t know the cost of cramming. He had been up at night studying for a final exam. He hadn’t slept very well all exam week really, high stress, heavy workload and lack of time for sleep all compounded into a massive sleep debt. He never knew that sacrificing proper sleep for better grades could cost someone their life.

He didn’t know he fell into three or more high-risk categories pertaining to driver-fatigue, that statistically males under 29 years of age were responsible for the highest incidents of early morning deadly driver-fatigue.

Brian didn’t know that people who sleep six to seven hours a night versus the recommended 8 or more are twice as likely to be involved in a driver-fatigue related accident. Odds are shown to be even worse by only getting five hours of adequate sleep which according to the ATSB (Australian Transport Safety Bureau) increases the risk a heaping four to five times.

Anyone is at risk to the adverse affects of sleep deprivation and the negative effects can cost a lot more than mental confusion. Brian never made it to school the morning of his exam. He set out driving distractedly tying to remember countless facts to help him on the final, preoccupied and mentally exhausted from the prolonged activity of studying without efficient sleep time recovery. As his eyelids began drooping and his heart rate slowed the unthinkable happened – he veered into a median and never recovered.

We just don’t want this to happen to anyone again – the pain is unimaginable, he had his whole life ahead of him, he was a good boy,” his family said in a statement released to news reporters after that fateful day. “If Brian’s story can help someone learn about this deadly problem then we should talk about it as much as possible.” Family and friends have become crusaders in efforts to get the word out about driver-fatigue issues.