Transportation safety is paramount for our highways. In today’s 24/7 society, there are a multitude of options to distract us from what is really important – keeping our focus on the road. Drivers are assaulted by a number of interruptions: children, other passengers, phones, social media, adjusting audio or climate controls, and eating or drinking.
Although all of those distractions are dangerous, a highly pervasive threat to public health and transportation safety is drowsy driving. Driving while drowsy can have the same consequences as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drowsiness can impair the ability to drive safely, even if the driver does not fall asleep. Drowsy driving usually occurs at high speeds, making it difficult to avoid a crash. A recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study showed that 7 percent of all crashes and 16.5 percent of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. This estimate suggests that approximately 6,000 people died in drowsy driving related motor vehicle crashes across the United States last year.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) would like to provide our members with information on the drowsy driving issue along with other transportation safety issues. Please feel free to share this information with your colleagues, legislators, federal and state agencies, as well as other transportation stakeholders.
- AASM FMCSA/FRA comments
In March 2016 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that the agencies were seeking public input on the impacts of screening, evaluating and treating rail workers and commercial motor vehicle drivers for obstructive sleep apnea. An AASM task force reviewed the proposal and submitted comments, which were published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
- FAQs about management of OSA in commercial motor vehicle operators (CMVOs)
The AASM drafted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to help board-certified sleep physicians, primary care physicians, and occupational medical practitioners manage commercial motor vehicle operators (CMVO) with OSA.
- AASM Drowsy Driving Position Statement
AASM’s drowsy driving position statement is to educate both healthcare providers and the general public about drowsy driving risks and countermeasures.
- AASM Drowsy Driving Template Language
Currently, 47 states and Washington, D.C., have information about drowsy driving in their driver’s manuals, and 17 states include drowsy driving education in their driver’s education curricula. However, the quality of the information varies widely. The AASM has developed driver’s manual language, a model curriculum, and exam questions to improve states’ accuracy and consistency of their drowsy-driving content. Several states have indicated they will include the language in their manuals.
- AASM response to Dillon Transportation
AASM submitted a response to Dillon Transportation LLC (Dillon) application for an exemption from certain provisions of the Agency’s hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. The application proposed to allow Dillion’s team drivers to split the rest into two separate periods totaling 10 hours. The split would have allowed team drivers to operate by taking 3- to 7-hour breaks. AASM responded by stating that evidence is lacking that splitting a main continuous sleep period into shorter segments is equally restful.
- Prevent Drowsy Driving: Stay Awake at the Wheel!
The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project (NHSAP) is a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the AASM. One of the main NHASP initiatives is our “Awake at the Wheel” program which urges drivers to make it a daily priority to get sufficient sleep, refusing to drive when sleep deprived, recognizing the signs of drowsiness, and pulling off the road to a safe location when sleepy.