Transportation Safety in Action

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

workers with opportunities for rest, and allow workers to "call-in-fatigued" when necessary. Those who operate vehicles need to take personal responsibility for getting enough quality sleep and not putting themselves or others at risk if they are too sleepy to perform effectively.

Any advice for the average car driver when they are feeling excessively sleepy?

First, don’t start a trip if you are tired. If you feel drowsy while driving, pull over. By the time you feel sleepy, you are probably already impaired. Napping has been shown to have a temporary benefit for alertness, but nothing beats a good night’s sleep.

What could drivers learn from the NTSB about preventing fatigue-related accidents?

The most important things that drivers can do to avoid being involved in a fatigue-related accident are to get enough sleep at night, and to avoid driving during late night and early morning hours when the brain is hard-wired to be asleep. Also, if you are having trouble sleeping or staying alert during the waking hours, talk to your doctor. Finally, avoid driving if you are using any prescription or over-the-counter medications that could cause drowsiness.

Tell us more about your Most Wanted List and how it has improved safety on the road.

The Safety Board’s Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements was introduced in 1990 as a way to emphasize certain recommendations we believe deserve extra attention. Items on our Most Wanted List come from all modes of transportation. We believe our Most Wanted List is a very effective tool. For example, we highlighted drug and alcohol testing in aviation on our Most Wanted List, and now airlines are required to perform pre-employment, random, and post-accident drug and alcohol testing on employees in safety-sensitive positions.

Our Most Wanted List also gets congressional attention. In 2008, we were able to remove from the list recommendations for positive train control and new fatigue regulations for railroads after Congress mandated that the Federal Railroad Administration implement these two important measures. In the highway area of our Most Wanted List, we have added a recommendation asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety

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