WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report by the
National Sleep Foundation (NSF) confirms that motor vehicle crashes caused
by drowsy driving continue to be underrecognized due to a lack of
uniformity in crash reporting among states. The first-ever annual State of
the States Report on Drowsy Driving found that while significant progress
has been made on various fronts in the battle against drowsy driving, much
remains to be accomplished.
The report also indicates that police officers are not receiving
adequate training on the impact of fatigue on driving performance. Both the
lack of uniform codes and proper training for law enforcement have created
a situation where only very conservative statistics exist. NSF also found
that many drivers licensing manuals contain false and misleading
information about sleep and countermeasures to prevent sleep-related
crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that
drowsy driving causes at least 100,000 police-reported crashes and kills
more than 1,550 Americans each year.
"NSF will use this report to work toward establishing standard language
that states may use to code sleep-related crashes on police crash report
forms and to address the impact of sleep loss in police training programs,"
says NSF Acting CEO Darrel Drobnich. "This will lead to more accurate
statistics that will allow us to better recognize and better address this
The report consisted of a survey sent to traffic safety offices across
the country and additional research by NSF. The report updates a similar
survey conducted by NSF in 1998.
The vast majority of states responding to the 2007 survey indicated
that they have the ability to charge a drowsy driver under existing laws.
This was similar to the 1998 survey. However, the current report found that
there continues to be wide variance in the types of charges that would be
levied. Only New Jersey explicitly defines drowsy driving as recklessness
under a vehicular homicide statute. Known as "Maggie's Law," New Jersey's
drowsy driving law has served to raise awareness of the consequences of
fatigue behind the wheel and has spurred significant action in other
states. There are now at least 8 states with 12 pending bills that address
fatigued driving in various ways.
However, Maggie's Law and many of the pending bills are not optimal due
to their narrow focus. NSF plans to work with legislators in correcting
this problem by releasing principles for model state legislation that take
a comprehensive approach to addressing drowsy driving.
Additionally, NSF is working in partnership with a number of
universities, high schools and youth organizations to educate young drivers
about the consequences of sleepiness behind the wheel. NSF is also reaching
out to parents, teachers and the media to raise awareness of the importance
of safe and alert driving for all motorists.
In order to address the lack of education about drowsy driving and its
disproportionate impact on young people, NSF is today launching its first
ever Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (DDPW) campaign. This effort seeks to
raise public awareness and increase advocacy around drowsy driving. The
focus of this year's campaign is on young drivers.
A cornerstone of DDPW is the launch of www.DrowsyDriving.org. There
individuals can find information about drowsy driving as well as an
easy-to-use toolkit to help them spread the word about this issue. The site
also features a drowsy driving memorials and testimonials site that tells
the stories of those whose lives have been permanently affected by a drowsy
driving crash and preserves the memory of those whose lives were lost. The
complete State of the States Report on Drowsy Driving is available at
www.DrowsyDriving.org/stateofthestatesreport. NSF plans to conduct the
survey annually and release the report during DDPW to track progress on
specific issues related to drowsy driving prevention and law enforcement.
NSF has enlisted the following group of prominent and diverse sponsors
and partners to support DDPW and to help raise awareness of the
consequences of drowsy driving among their members and the public:
Sponsors for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week 2007
--Respironics - Lead Sponsor
--Claritin - Sponsor
--Health Monitor/American Academy of Physician Assistants - Sponsor
--University Services Sleep Diagnostic & Treatment Centers - Sponsor
--Evergreen Safety Council - Sponsor
--American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine - Supporter
--Sleep Research Society - Supporter
--Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists - Supporter
--Ambulatory Monitoring - Contributor
--HealthCentral.Com - Contributor
Campaign Partners for Drowsy Driving Prevention Week 2007
--America's Promise Alliance
--ASPIRA Association, Inc. www.sleepfoundation.org
--The Bacchus Network
--Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
--Children's Safety Network
--Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Inc. (FCCLA)
--National Center for Child Death Review
--National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS)
--National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL)
--Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD)
For more information, visit, www.sleepfoundation.org.
SOURCE National Sleep Foundation