Pennsylvania motorists sometimes make the dangerous choice to get behind
the wheel of their vehicle and continue to drive even if they are feeling
tired or actually starting to doze off.
Drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers, due to tiredness causing delayed
reaction times and impaired judgment.
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control conducted a study that revealed
around four percent of U.S. motorists who were driving on the road had
admitted to falling asleep as they drove over the course of the 30-days
before the survey. An estimated 2.2 to 2.6 percent of all car accidents
in the United States are caused by these drowsy drivers who don’t
make the smart choice to stop driving when they start to feel tired. Each
year, more than 72,000 devastating crashes are caused by sleep-deprived drivers.
Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
recognized that drowsy driving is a safety issue on our nation’s
roads. The agency announced that it will be focused on trying to combat
the problems associated with drowsy drivers.
The NHTSA administrator says that drowsy driving is a more universal problem
than other types of dangerous driving behaviors because everyone gets
tired, and it is natural that fatigue will sometimes set in behind the
wheel. By contrast, not everyone speeds or drives drunk and you generally
have more control over these behaviors than you do if your body is telling
you to nod off.
The NHTSA wants to tackle this problem and will be focused on taking action
this year. However, unfortunately it is much harder to regulate drowsy
driving than it is other types of dangerous driving behavior, because
policing the number of hours people spend behind the wheel would be impossible.
Although truck drivers are subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA) rules about the number of hours they can drive each day and each
week, obviously there is no such limitation on the number of hours an
average person can drive.
The NHTSA has highlighted a few things that it will be doing to combat
the drowsy driving problem, including doing more research into the causes,
exploring the effectiveness of both legal and technological solutions,
and increasing public awareness efforts to remind motorists about the
dangers of driving when fatigued.
Hopefully, the NHTSA will come up with an innovative strategy for drowsy
driving crash prevention; however, ultimately the responsibility for motorists
not to drive drowsy lies with the motorist.