The National Transportation Safety Board fully supports Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which is November 6-12, 2011.
"Drowsy driving is driving while fatigued," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman, "and fatigue is a serious safety issue."
Over the years, the NTSB has investigated numerous accidents across all modes of transportation in which fatigue was cited as the probable cause or a contributing factor. Earlier this year, the NTSB once again placed fatigue on its Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
"For more than 20 years fatigue has been recognized as a transportation danger on the NTSB's Most Wanted List," Hersman added. "Tired drivers pose a safety risk because fatigue can degrade every aspect of human performance. It slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and degrades memory."
Hersman noted that fatigue is complex, multifaceted, and that "we all have a role to play in eliminating fatigue in transportation."
- Make sure you are not fatigued or drowsy when driving, by getting adequate sleep.
- Regulators have a role to play in establishing hours-of-service regulations that provide a safety net for workers and in setting standards that will help to identify and mitigate fatigue.
- Employers must develop guidance and rules for proper screening, detection, and treatment for sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep disorders can be managed to help reduce the risk of fatigue-related transportation accidents.
- In addition, transportation professionals have a responsibility to report for duty well rested and prepared to assume their duties.
The Safety Board continues to call for the development of fatigue management systems, which take a comprehensive approach to reducing fatigue-related risk. These systems should be based on empirical and scientific evidence and should include a methodology to continually assess their effectiveness.
"Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is an ideal time to remind drivers that being well rested is a safety measure that can save lives 52 weeks a year," Hersman said. "If you can't stay alert, then stay off the road."