Falling Asleep at the Wheel: New US DOT Program Plan

Falling Asleep at the

The ramifications of a driver falling asleep while operating a motor vehicle can be catastrophic. Accurately measuring the volume of auto accidents resulting from drivers who have “dozed off” is unlikely because there isn’t an effective way of determining if a driver was asleep at the time of an accident unless the operator discloses it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 20% of motor-vehicle-related deaths can be attributed to driver drowsiness. According to results of a poll, roughly 37% of respondents indicated that had “nodded off” at some time.

This year the US Department of Transportation launched a program plan called the NHTSA Drowsy Driving Research and Program Plan (DDRPP). Thus far, two US states, New Jersey and Arkansas, have passed some legislation relating to driver drowsiness. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers under the age of 24 are the most likely demographic to fall asleep while driving. There are several other groups that have been identified as the higher risk as follows:

  • Emergency Medical Service workers, such as EMT’s, have public demand for their services 24 hours a day and 365 days per year. Research indicates that 50% of EMT’s reported sleeping less than 6 hours per night on average and rated their quality of sleep as poor.
  • Those with sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea. People who suffer from sleep apnea are known to be particularly susceptible to abruptly falling asleep at inopportune times.

The NHTSA’s DDRPP focuses on generating funding for this cause. They are focused on section 402 funds that are part of the Highway Safety Grant Program, as well as grant funding. With the heightened recognition of the “distracted driving” problem, such as texting while driving, developing relationships with the proponents of this issue are underway.

Vehicle technology that is capable of detecting drowsiness through characteristics exhibited by the driver in underway. The technology is still in development and uses methods from the area of “big data” by using algorithms to measure certain dynamic activity such as the vehicle slightly veering outside of the lane of travel. The alert indicators will likely be both visible and audible.

Existing tools such as the roadway “rumble strips” have proven effective, although irritating to many. The costs of the rumble strips are low, and they are particularly effective when where traffic is entering a stretch of roadway where drivers will need to be alert, such as just prior to dramatic curves and bends in the road.

The Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal has many years of experience and the resources needed to fight for the rights of Colorado injury victims. We will seek compensation that is needed to allow you to proceed with as normal of a life as possible after a devastating auto accident. You should not be forced to suffer from the consequences of another driver’s mistakes, so take action by contacting the office for a complimentary consultation!

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