Driver Fatigue Needs To Be Recognized As A Public Health Problem

I have tried to get the attention of the Department of Health and Human Services and requested them to address driver fatigue as a public health problem. So far, no one seems to be listening.

Here is a letter which I received from them yesterday in response to my letter to them (the Secretary of HHS) requesting that they address driver fatigue as a public health problem.
Letter from DHHS related to driver fatigue 001

They determined that they are not the best agency to address my concern and indicated that they are sending my letter to the Department of Labor. That is because, I suppose, I mentioned in the letter that I think the Department of Labor ought to be involved as well. Why? Because how truck drivers get paid and scheduled for their work are also factors in truck driver fatigue.

In other words, I think that driver fatigue will not be fully eliminated until we work together to address this complex public health problem that impairs drivers in much the same way as drunk driving. That is why I have called for a federal task force to work in a more coordinated fashion toward better protection for travelers on our roads.

Canada, at least, seems to be getting the idea and passing relevant legislation to take driver fatigue more seriously:

“…Driving while fatigued is comparable to driving drunk, only there is not the same social stigma attached. Like alcohol, fatigue affects our ability to drive by slowing reaction time, decreasing awareness and impairing judgment. Driving while sleep impaired is a significant issue, and is no longer tolerated. Legislation {in Canada} is beginning to change by handling collisions cause by a fatigued driver as seriously as alcohol-impaired crashes.”

The Governors Highway Safety Association is supporting a Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. I would like to see them do the same for driver fatigue. I realize that it is a more complex issue, but does that mean we should just ignore it and pretend it does not exist?

Here is an excerpt from their website:

“Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving


GHSA has joined MADD and others to support the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. [] The campaign has four components: technology, tougher enforcement, stronger laws, and grassroots mobilization. The goal is to ‘completely eliminate drunk driving…making it the public health equivalent of polio.’

GHSA Policy

Excerpted from GHSA’s Highway Safety Policies & Priorities [115 KB, 27 pgs.]

E. Impaired Driving

Impaired driving is a serious problem threatening the safety of our nation’s highways. There are, however, methods of combating this crisis, particularly in the areas of law enforcement, legislation, training programs and evaluation and treatment for offenders.”

“Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a major public health problem.”

DWF = Driving While Fatigued

It is time that we recognize it for what it is: a Public Health Problem.



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