By Lori Yerdon, U.S. Army Combat
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Driving while fatigued may be just
as dangerous as driving intoxicated researchers believe, prompting
Army and nationwide awareness on the perils of fatigued driving.
A photo illustration of the
effects of fatigued driving. (USAR/SC
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), many
Americans are too tired to drive.
In a recent NSF poll, 36 percent of participants admitted to
nodding off or falling asleep while driving.
Fatigued drivers endanger not only themselves but everyone on
"Although there is no quick roadside test that determines
fatigue levels, research shows that 24 hours without sleep is
comparable to a BAC of .10 which is legally intoxicated in all of the
United States and most of Europe," said Dr. Patricia LeDuc, U.S.
Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center Human Factors Task Force director.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates
there are 100,000 sleep-related crashes in the United States every
year, with 1,550 fatalities and 71,000 injuries.
During fiscal 2007, the Army experienced 11 Class A
Three have occurred to date in fiscal year 2008 and Army safety
officials remain committed to reducing the number of fatigue-related
accidents through engaged leadership, awareness and Army initiatives.
"The Travel Risk Planning System (TRiPS) helps drivers and
their supervisors identify risks involved in driving long distances
with too little sleep, insufficient rest breaks and even while driving
at night," said Derek
A. Kovacsy, USACRC Automated Risk Assessment Tools program manager.
"TRiPS also recommends ways to manage these risks, which the user
can select to reduce their overall risk level."
"There are several warning signs of fatigue; however,
individuals often don't understand them or worse yet, choose to ignore
them," LeDuc said. "Falling
asleep against your will ("micro" sleeps), irritability,
depression, giddiness, are all indicators."
An individual's decision-making ability, complex planning
processes, productivity, attention, ability to handle stress, and
reaction time can all be compromised.
They also may have
a tendency to increase risk-taking, be more forgetful and exhibit
errors in judgment, all which can increase the likelihood of having an
Taking precautions before a road trip may prevent an
Not driving alone, avoiding long drives at night, taking
frequent breaks and getting a good night's sleep are tips that can
help Soldiers, their families and civilians fight fatigued driving.
For more information on preventing fatigued driving and drowsy
driving, visit http://www.nhtsa.gov
for all of the topics covered during the Army's 101 Critical Days of
Summer safety campaign.