Drunk driving gets a lot of attention, but drowsy driving is a serious transportation danger as well -- one getting recognized this week, Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
"Tired drivers pose a safety risk because fatigue can degrade every aspect of human performance, said Deborah A.P. Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). "It slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and degrades memory."
The NTSB has investigated numerous accidents across all modes of transportation in which fatigue was cited as the probable cause or a contributing factor. Earlier this year, the Board once again placed fatigue on its Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
Hersman noted that fatigue is multifaceted, leading to recommendations both simple (people should get adequate sleep) to complex (employers should develop screening and treatment programs for obstructive sleep apnea). Sleep disorderes can be managed to help reduce the risk of fatigue-related transportation accidents.
Other recommendations from the NTSB:
Regulators have a role to play in establishing hours-of-service regulations that provide a safety net for workers and in setting standards that will help to identify and mitigate fatigue.
In addition, transportation professionals have a responsibility to report for duty well rested and prepared to assume their duties.
The Safety Board continues to call for the development of fatigue management systems, which take a comprehensive approach to reducing fatigue-related risk. These systems should be based on empirical and scientific evidence and should include a methodology to continually assess their
"If you can't stay alert, then stay off the road," said Hersman.