Have you ever seen a car wandering out of its lane and wondered just what the driver was doing? It’s not hard to find drivers who are having trouble keeping their vehicles in one lane. The culprit may be alcohol, a cell phone call or text, the difficulty getting creamer into his coffee, or a thousand other issues. One of the possible causes is both common and difficult to detect-drowsiness. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is responsible for between 2.2 and 2.6 percent of fatal crashes. Drowsy driving is also the subject of a new crackdown announced by the NHTSA this week.
The new head administrator at the NHTSA was known for his work with human fatigue during his time at NASA and with the National Transportation Safety Board. Drowsy driving is his baby, so few will be shocked that it is an early subject of attention for the NHTSA under his watch. He indicated that the NHTSA will shortly begin developing and testing techniques for an awareness campaign directed at fatigued driving. He also announced that the NHTSA would be partnering with state governments in identifying the best ways catch tired drivers and deter people from taking the risk of getting caught.
It is hard to argue that drowsy driving is considered a serious problem by most drivers. While many drivers would never consider getting behind the wheel when drunk, they are all too willing to drive when exhausted. Many drivers acknowledge that cell phone use and driving don’t mix, though too many are willing to try it themselves, they wouldn’t think twice about getting in the car for a morning commute after a night of short sleep. People either don’t view drowsy driving as a problem or they believe it’s a problem for others. Perhaps the NHTSA will be able to convince the public that drowsy driving is as dangerous as any other form of impaired driving.
Source: The Detroit News, “NHTSA chief vows to crackdown on drowsy driving,” by David Shepardson, 16 March 2015