[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                         June 27, 2008

Fatigued driving compares to drunk driving

By Lori Yerdon, U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center

      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.

Photo: A photo illustration of the effects of fatigued driving. (USAR/SC photo)
A photo illustration of the effects of fatigued driving. (USAR/SC photo)

      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 the road.

      "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 fatigue-related accidents.

      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 accident."

      Taking precautions before a road trip may prevent an unnecessary accident. 

      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 and http://www.drowsydriving.org. 

      Visit https://crc.army.mil for all of the topics covered during the Army's 101 Critical Days of Summer safety campaign.


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