In the early hours of the day, exactly five years ago, several Orange families were notified of the grief-stricken cross they would bear for the rest of their lives, after three young men were killed instantly in a single-vehicle crash west of Dubbo.
At 7.30am that day Orange residents Todd Sligar, Mitchell Holloway and Ethan Hertslet died after their vehicle left the Mitchell Highway and hit a tree about 10 kilometres from Trangie.
It was the result of fatigue as the driver of the black utility vehicle fell asleep at the wheel, following a pig hunting trip the trio elected to make the return drive rather than their initial plan to camp.
I want to spare other families the pain and encourage other mothers to talk to their sons.Michelle Sligar
Now the families of those young men continue their quest to prevent others from experiencing the same grief by marking Driver Fatigue Awareness Day, as they have every year since launching the day in 2018.
Driver Fatigue Awareness Day and the aligning Be A Champ, Stop For A Camp social media campaign are funded a Community Grant from Transport for NSW, and aim to change the behaviours of recreational hunters.
"We want to reach as many young recreational hunters (as we can), and the guys who go fishing as well," Michelle Sligar, Todd's mother, said.
"I want to spare other families the pain and encourage other mothers to talk to their sons, they need to sleep before and after a night's hunting."
"We don't want to spoil their fun but they need to stick to their plan and manage their fatigue to get home safe," Tanika Pintos, Todd's sister, added.
"You can't prevent falling into a micro sleep if you have worked all day and hunted all night - the body shuts down."
Although the campaign is designed to target recreational hunters or fishers the message it sends is relevant to all motorists, particularly those in regional areas and specifically males.
Men represent almost 63 per cent of driver fatigue casualties, with the most recorded in the 17-20 age group, followed by 21-25 and 30-39.
"The social media (campaign) will target families in regional NSW to start conversations about driver fatigue. We know starting those conversations is how we change behaviour," Andrea Hamilton-Vaughan, Road Safety Officer for Orange and Cabonne Councils, said.
"The fact that Michelle Sligar has targeted two goals to fight driver fatigue is a testament to her dedication and tenacity."
The 2021 edition of Driver Fatigue Awareness Day will be launched by Minister for Regional Roads and Transport Paul Toole and Councillor Kevin Duffy at 10.30am on Friday morning, at the Orange Community Services Centre.
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