An in-depth study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that drowsy driving could be as dangerous as drunk driving.
AAA said the drowsy driving research using in-vehicle dashcam videos of everyday drivers is the most intensive to be done in the United States. The research revealed that the percentage of accidents which happen due to drowsiness “is eight times higher than federal estimates indicate.”
The federation also said that the difficulty in detecting drowsiness following a crash makes drowsy driving “one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.”
Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said, “Drowsy driving is a bigger traffic safety issue than federal estimates show. Drivers who don’t get enough sleep are putting everyone on the road at risk.”
Analyzing dashcam videos
AAA said researchers studied videos of drivers’ faces in the three minutes leading up to a crash. The researchers then linked the percentage of time a person’s eyes are closed to their level of drowsiness — which revealed that 9.5% of all crashes and 10.8% of accidents resulting in significant property damage involved drowsiness.
According to earlier federal estimates, drowsiness only resulted in one to two percent of crashes, AAA highlighted.
The Department of Transportation (DOT), however, does understand the negative impact of drowsiness and driver fatigue. The ELD mandate was also introduced to eliminate driver fatigue and enforce hours-of-service rules.
The final ELD rule has been in effect from December 18, 2017, which requires non-exempt truckers to use FMCSA-registered electronic logging devices.
Drowsiness, commercial drivers, and ELDs
Pennsylvania state police trooper Frank Lewis, a motor vehicle enforcer, said that drowsiness becomes an important subject when it involves large commercial vehicles.
Lewis says, “Once they [commercial drivers] become drowsy, their chances of crashing a commercial vehicle are much greater than a personal car.”
The use of ELDs, however, can minimize drowsiness and driver fatigue.
According to estimates by the FMCSA, electronic logging devices would help save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries every year.
Matt Ivan, a driver for Pitt Ohio, supports the use of an ELD by truck drivers because the device “does the thinking for you.”
“It will remind you when to take a break, not that you should need that, but it’s almost like having a passenger with you that says, ‘Hey, I’m helping you watch.’”
In short, ELDs help commercial drivers adhere to the hours-of-service rules, which ensures that drivers are well rested and fresh when they are behind the wheels. It is one of the many reasons why truckers who are exempt from the ELD mandate are also installing ELDs.
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