Driver Fatigue Investigated After NYC Bus Crash

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Dr. David Volpi's recent Huffington Post article, he writes that last week's bus accident that killed 15 people after crashing near the Bronx, NY, has raised multiple questions for federal investigators. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate if the bus driver was so fatigued he was incapable of driving properly.

Dr. Volpi notes that there is no question that fatigue might have contributed to this crash since it is a major cause of crashes -- not just for buses, but for trucks, airplanes, trains and boating accidents, as well.

Drowsy driving is more prevalent than previously expected. Last fall, the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety polled 2,000 drivers. One-third of them admitted to either nodding off or completely falling asleep while they were driving in the past year.

More than half of those polled by AAA reported they fell asleep on a high-speed highway. Although it might seem more common to doze off during long car rides, 59 percent said they'd been driving under an hour before they had fallen asleep. Drowsy driving can happen at any time. Twenty-six percent reported that it happened in the middle of the day, between noon and 5 p.m.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving "results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and more than 100,000 accidents each year" and that 57 percent of driving crashes caused by fatigue involved the driver drifting into other lanes or even off the road.

Motor vehicle accidents due to “drowsy driving” account for $48 billion in medical costs each year.

To prevent drowsy driving, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following tips:

  • Get a full night of seven to eight hours of sleep before driving. 
  • Avoid driving late at night. 
  • Avoid driving alone. 
  • On a long trip, share the driving with another passenger. 
  • Pull over at a rest stop and take a nap. 
  • Use caffeine for a short-term boost. 
  • Take a short nap after consuming caffeine to maximize the effect. 
  • Arrange for someone to give you a ride home after working a late shift.  
Learn more about drowsy driving here.

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