NTSB official highlights dangers of driver fatigue

Thomas McMahon
Posted on March 12, 2013

Mark Rosekind is a National Transportation Safety Board member and an expert in sleep and fatigue science.
Mark Rosekind is a National Transportation Safety Board member and an expert in sleep and fatigue science.
While the “spring forward” clock change creates a national sleep debt and leads to a spike in auto crashes, driver fatigue is a “life-threatening concern” at all times of the year, a federal safety official writes.

In a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) blog entry posted on Thursday, Mark Rosekind, an NTSB member and an expert in sleep and fatigue science, highlights the dangers of driver fatigue after the switch to Daylight Saving Time and beyond.

On the Monday after the time change, there is a 17% increase in crashes on the nation’s roadways, according to Rosekind.

Throughout each year, he notes, an estimated 1 million highway crashes and near-misses are likely related to fatigue.

“Perhaps the most basic requirement for safely operating any vehicle is to be awake, and though necessary, just being awake is not sufficient,” Rosekind writes. “Safe travel requires every vehicle operator to have obtained optimal sleep and be wide-awake and maximally alert, every time.”

Rosekind points to a deadly accident near Miami, Okla., three years ago in which 10 people died when a truck plowed into seven cars and caused a massive pile-up.

“The driver suffered from a deadly combination of an altered work schedule, acute sleep loss and sleep apnea,” Rosekind writes. “He never even touched the brakes.”

The NTSB member also discusses actions that his agency and federal regulators have taken, adding that “reducing fatigue risks in transportation is everyone’s ongoing responsibility: companies, the government, individual operators and travel consumers.”

To read Rosekind’s blog post, go here.

Related Topics: driver fatigue, NTSB

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Ned Einstein

     | about 6 years ago

    Tom: I'm delighted that you have someone like Mark Rosekind on board, and I've been critical of both the UMA and ABA for lobbying for the motorcoach industry's exemption from the changes in the HOS a decade or so ago. But -- I hope this comment is taken constructively and does not offend anyone, but is it possible to get someone like him more involved in some of your field investigations, or to provide your field team with a better understanding of the clues and symptoms? Or is there a way I could even become involved as a consultant to the Board in this area -- as driver fatigue is my primary area of expertise?One of your field teams imagined fatigue in the 2008 Victoria, TX accident where there was no evidence of it, yet missed an avalanche of evidence about it in the Sherman, TX accident -- which led to innocent manufacturers and suppliers settling for tens of millions of dollars in the inevitable lawsuit for something that was the operator's fault. I wish there was some meaningful way I could help the Board, as I will have to criticize your field team's efforts in both these accidents in a series of installments I have just begun having published in National Bus Trader. If there is anything someone like myself can do constructively to help, please let me know. Thanks again for letting us know that at least Mark is tuned in. I wish him luck.

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