Wake-Up Call Issued on Dangers of Drowsy Driving | Edmunds

Wake-Up Call Issued on Dangers of Drowsy Driving


Just the Facts:
  • Americans need a wake-up call about the dangers of drowsy driving, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
  • "We do not have a 'fatigue-alyzer' as we have a breathalyzer for alcohol intoxication," said Mark Rosekind, an NTSB board member.
  • Even one night of losing just two hours of sleep is sufficient to significantly impair one's ability to drive.

WASHINGTON Americans need a wake-up call about the dangers of drowsy driving, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.

"We do not have a 'fatigue-alyzer' as we have a breathalyzer for alcohol intoxication," said Mark Rosekind, an NTSB board member.

Even one night of losing just two hours of sleep is sufficient to significantly impair the ability to drive.

"Attention, reaction time and decision-making can all be significantly reduced by as much as 20-50 percent," Rosekind said at the NTSB's "Awake, Alert, Alive" forum.

Driver fatigue may directly contribute to over 100,000 roadway crashes annually but these are only crashes that have involved the police. Federal safety regulators say as many as 7,500 lives are lost each year due to drowsy driving.

Automakers are responding to the problem with new technology. The Mercedes-Benz Attention Assist system alerts the driver when it's time to stop for a rest. It is available as standard equipment on a number of vehicles, including the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class and Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

Volvo Driver Alert monitors the car's movements and assesses whether the vehicle is being driven in a controlled or uncontrolled way. It first debuted in several models, including the Volvo S80.

A 2010 study by AAA found that 41 percent of drivers admit to having "fallen asleep or nodded off" while driving at some point in their lives.

The NTSB says that a number of factors can contribute to drowsy driving, including medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, irregular work schedules and novice drivers who are unaware about sleep needs.

Edmunds says: Federal safety regulators are calling for a "national awakening" on the risks of drowsy driving. In the meantime, don't get behind the wheel if you haven't had enough sleep.

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