The National Transportation Safety Board is holding a highway safety forum this week on the topic of drowsy driving. The public forum will cover various topics, including the prevalence of drowsy driving, potential countermeasures to combat the problem and risk factors tied to the issue. The NTSB has given the forum the title Awake, Alert, Alive. While fatigue has been addressed in the world of commercial driving, its impact on noncommercial driving is less well understood.
According to a poll conducted by the AAA, 83 percent of Americans consider tired drivers a threat to their personal safety. How many drowsy drivers are on the road is difficult to calculate. Another AAA poll indicated that 41 percent of drivers admitted to falling asleep or nodding off behind the wheel at some point. The NTSB estimates that 100,000 accidents and more than 5,000 traffic fatalities happen every year because of drowsy driving.
The topics of the forum include a panel to address workplace issues that contribute to drowsy driving. Long hours, irregular schedules and shift work have all been identified as aggravating factors for drowsy driving. Another panel will focus on concerns for novice drivers in combating drowsy driving. Experienced and inexperienced drivers may have difficulty determining when they are too tired to safely operate a motor vehicle, but teen drivers may be more easily susceptible to driving fatigue due to biological changes that occur at that age. The forum will conclude with a consideration of the future direction taken by the NTSB in addressing drowsy driving.
Source: CBS News, “How drowsy is too drowsy to drive?,” 21 October 2014