Here’s an admonition to American motorists delivered courtesy of the national advocacy group AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Wake up about being sleepy behind the wheel.
That organization released a report yesterday chronicling the roadway perils associated with drowsy driving.
And it is dire.
Indeed, it is flat-out frightening, to wit: According to AAA, a motorist in California or elsewhere who gets as many as five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period is still about as menacing behind the wheel as is a drunk driver.
Candidly, who among us with keys in hand hasn’t engaged traffic at some point while being fatigued beyond reason, while knowing full well that we’re not as alert as we could — and should — be? And how many of us in such a condition have experienced results of that less-than-ready state marked by lane swerving, excessive speeding (or dangerously slow driving), near misses with other vehicles and additionally harrowing incidents?
And yet many of us motor on while occasionally being dangerously tired.
Our underestimation of the perils linked with drowsy driving yields too-often catastrophic outcomes. Crash statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cite more than 35,000 traffic-related fatalities nationwide last year, with it being posited (as noted in a recent NPR article) that “about 20 percent of fatal accidents in the U.S. involve a drowsy driver.”
Not getting enough sleep and still turning on the ignition switch is more than reproachful behavior. Unquestionably, it is a negligent act, and the roadway outcomes it can engender are far too often marked by the third-party deaths of innocent victims.
There is only one prescription for a fatigued motorist that effectively safeguards the public from his or her driving behavior, and that is this: Put the key down and go to bed.