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Safety Board Tackles Tired Driving

Determining whether or not a person drove drunk is relatively simple. Banning people from texting while driving is straightforward, if not always easy to enforce. Stopping people from drowsy driving may prove a significant challenge. The National Transportation Safety Board is holding a forum to tackle the issue of tired drivers this week. The goal is to reduce the injuries and fatalities caused by drivers who are suffering from fatigue behind the wheel.

The AAA reports that 41 percent of drivers have acknowledged falling asleep or dozing while driving at some point in their lives. Many people consider drowsy drivers a threat on the roads, but how many of them have driven while suffering from fatigue? Drowsy driving is a form of impaired driving, according to an NTSB board member. It might just be a struggle to get people to view the behavior on the same level as driving drunk. 

The NTSB reports that drowsy driving is responsible for 5,000 to 6,000 traffic deaths annually. It is an alarming number, but could fall short of the reality of the situation. More and more Americans are reporting not getting enough sleep, according to Gallup polling. Doctors recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but the average American gets 6.8 hours. It is quite possible that the majority of drivers on the road at any given point are not getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Driving ability can be measurably impaired in drivers who have fallen two hours short of the amount needed. For those who need 9 hours of sleep a night, the average amount of sleep would leave them impaired behind the wheel. The NTSB faces a stiff challenge in convincing most Americans to change their lifestyles to get enough sleep before driving.

Source: CBS This Morning, "How drowsy is too drowsy to drive," 21 October 2014 

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