A new spotlight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been issued regarding the dangers of drowsy driving. The NHTSA has expanded the definition of impaired driving by stressing the dangers of driving without proper rest. Historically, the emphasis has been on drunk driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or medication, and distracted driving, but the NHSTA says that drowsy driving is just as dangerous.
Based on research funded by State Farm, nearly 83.6 million Americans are sleep deprived and they are out on our roadways. Unfortunately, 5,000 lives were lost in drowsy-driving related crashes last year and estimates are expected to rise. The dangers have become so evident that the NHTSA is asking each state to take steps to prevent future drowsy-driving accidents. Georgia, through their part in the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), is one of many states taking action to educate drivers of these risks.
In the state’s own report, the agency reveals the annual societal cost of fatigue-related fatal and injury crashes is an astounding $109 billion – this statistic only includes bodily injury related figures; not property damage. With U.S. motor vehicle related deaths up 7.7% in 2015, the causes and effects for each state must be examined and addressed properly. Each state needs to make an effort to discuss legislation, enforcement, education and new technology to prevent the problem at hand.
The truth is that drowsy driving isn’t specific. The GHSA Executive Director recently stated, “Law enforcement lack protocols and training to help officers recognize drowsy driving at roadside. And if a crash occurs, the drowsy driver may not report the cause due to concerns about monetary and other penalties.”
The State Highway Safety Offices also joined in on the conversation by stating that sleep is just as important as eating and exercising. When individuals are not properly doing these life-sustaining activities then things such as driving and reaction time will suffer immensely.
Georgia has joined this conversation, but as Georgia residents, we need to encourage even more dialogue. Help make drowsy driving an even greater issue.