1. Drowsy driving is greatly underreported because there is no test for it, as there is for intoxication, no clear way to identify it, and many states don't even have a code for it on their vehicle accident reporting forms. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 100,000 police-reported crashes annually involve drowsiness/fatigue as a principal cause. It estimates that these crashes cause $12.5 billion in monetary losses each year. Sleepiness and fatigue also play a role in crashes attributed to other causes. About 1,000,000 crashes annually -- one-sixth of all crashes -- are thought to be caused by driver inattention adn lapses. Sleep deprivation and fatigue make such lapses of attention more likely to occur. In a 1999 National Science Foundation poll, 62% of all adults surveyed in the U.S. reported driving a car or other vehicle while they were drowsy during the previous year. Twenty-seven percent reported that they had, at some time, fallen asleep while driving. People are more likely to fall asleep on high-speed, long, boring, rural highways. The New York State Police estimates that 30% of all fatal accidents on the New York State Thruway occur because drivers fall asleep at the wheel. Studies suggest truck driver fatigue may contribute to at least 30 to 40% of all heavy truck accidents. (Facts about Drowsy Driving. The Peer Educator, 2000, 23(4), 9 &14) To learn more visit www.dui.com/whatsnew/sleep.html. Brookoff, D., Cook, C. S., Williams, C., and Mann, C. S. Testing reckless drivers for cocaine and marijuana. New England Journal of Medicine, 1994, 331, 518-522. See also Saylor, K. E., DuPont, R. L., and Brown, H. The high way: driving under influences other than alcohol. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1992, 267, 652; Kirby, J. M., Maull, K. I., and Fain, W. Comparability of alcohol and drug use in injured drivers. Southern Medical Journal, 1992, 85, 800-802; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Use of Controlled Substances and Highway Safety: A Report to Congress. Washington, DC: Department of Transportation; Skolnick, A. Illicit drugs take still another toll: death or injury from vehicle-associated trauma. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1990, 263, 3122-3125.
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