Asleep at the Wheel A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving
Fatigue has costly effects on the safety, health, and quality of life of the American public. Whether fatigue is caused by sleep restriction due to a new baby waking every couple of hours, a late or long shift at work, hanging out late with friends, or a long and monotonous drive for the holidays – the negative outcomes can be the same. These include impaired cognition and performance, motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, and health consequences.
Addressing these issues can be difficult when our values frequently do not align with avoiding drowsy driving. In a 24/7 society, with an emphasis on work, longer commutes, and exponential advancement of technology, many people do not get the sleep they need. Effectively dealing with the drowsy-driving problem requires fundamental changes to societal norms and especially attitudes about drowsy driving.
Over the last two decades, public and private organizations have made a number of attempts to address drowsy driving. These efforts have included programs, technologies, and laws aimed at reducing drowsy driving. But strategies that effectively address attitudes about fatigue among the general driving public are lacking.
In 2015, NHTSA convened the forum “Asleep at the Wheel: A Nation of Drowsy Drivers” during the National Sleep Foundation’s National Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. This meeting included more than 100 participants from many diverse organizations, setting the stage for a national coordinated effort by bringing together motor vehicle and highway safety experts with sleep/circadian science experts and the sleep medicine community.
The forum resulted in long- and short-term actions and ideas by the various stakeholders. In Asleep at the Wheel: A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving (PDF, 1.66 MB), those actions and ideas are organized across topics, including research and development, public and private partnerships, public education and awareness, and vehicle technology.