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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

That is the catchword of the Drowsy Driving Prevention Week supported by the National Transporation Safety Board.  You think of the NTSB as being connected to airplane accidents, but the NTSB is involved in all forms of transportation.

Pilots have for some time been subject to questions as to whether they have sleep apnea.  Some of the screening criteria, besides flat out asking, are asking if you snore, and checking your weight and neck size.  Overweight people with a large neck are more likely to have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disruption in your breathing while you sleep.  It's like your throat locks up and you go for some seconds without inhaling or exhaling.  Do that enough and you have a unproductive sleep, which makes you tired the next day.

Commercial truckers have for some time been aware of the focus on sleep apnea as they get their medicals.

 

Now, I wonder if  the NTSB isn't thnking of going after the general public.  I can certainly see plaintive's attorneys asking very leading questions about one's sleep and rest and there is more and more support for requiring rest before commercial operations.  Let me ask you - what's the difference whether you were hit by a cab driver who has sleep apnea and has been awake 20 hours and a parent driving home from an away football game after a long day in the factory?

 

Here's the NTSB press release.  Do you think it will be part of your farming operating someday?

 

************************************************************
NTSB PRESS RELEASE
************************************************************

National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC 20594

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 7, 2011

************************************************************

NTSB SUPPORTS "DROWSY DRIVING PREVENTION WEEK" - STAY ALERT
OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

************************************************************
WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board fully
supports Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, which is November
6-12, 2011.

"Drowsy driving is driving while fatigued," said NTSB
Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman, "and fatigue is a serious
safety issue."

Over the years, the NTSB has investigated numerous accidents
across all modes of transportation in which fatigue was
cited as the probable cause or a contributing factor.
Earlier this year, the NTSB once again placed fatigue on its
Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.

"For more than 20 years fatigue has been recognized as a
transportation danger on the NTSB's Most Wanted List,"
Hersman added. "Tired drivers pose a safety risk because
fatigue can degrade every aspect of human performance. It
slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and degrades memory."

Hersman noted that fatigue is complex, multifaceted, and
that "we all have a role to play in eliminating fatigue in
transportation."
* Make sure you are not fatigued or drowsy when driving,
by getting adequate sleep.
* Regulators have a role to play in establishing hours-
of-service regulations that provide a safety net for
workers and in setting standards that will help to
identify and mitigate fatigue.
* Employers must develop guidance and rules for proper
screening, detection, and treatment for sleep
disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep
disorders can be managed to help reduce the risk of
fatigue-related transportation accidents.
* In addition, transportation professionals have a
responsibility to report for duty well rested and
prepared to assume their duties.

The Safety Board continues to call for the development of
fatigue management systems, which take a comprehensive
approach to reducing fatigue-related risk. These systems
should be based on empirical and scientific evidence and
should include a methodology to continually assess their
effectiveness.

"Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is an ideal time to remind
drivers that being well rested is a safety measure that can
save lives 52 weeks a year," Hersman said. "If you can't
stay alert, then stay off the road."

###
NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams
202.314.6100
Terry.williams@ntsb.gov

************************************************************

This message is delivered to you as a free service from the
National Transportation Safety Board.

You may unsubscribe at any time at
http://www.ntsb.gov/registration/registration.htm

An archive of press releases is available at
http://www.ntsb.gov/pressrel/pressrel.htm

Current job opportunities with the NTSB are listed at
http://www.ntsb.gov/vacancies/listing.htm

For questions/problems, contact pubinq@ntsb.gov
 

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32 Replies
Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

We just finished harvest here, and wound up taking a couple loads of corn to the elevator in our old straight truck, and made an interesting observation. 
The guy in front of me, had to be woken up, to drive the truck to the pits, and woken up again, to drive out to let me there.  I was thanking my lucky stars that he'd be long gone by the time I got unloaded, and back to the scale.  People like that are an accident waiting to happen.

Be on the lookout for a bearded man, driving a White GMC, because I have heard other people comment they saw him snoozing in line, as well.

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kraft-t
Senior Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

This reminds me of back in the 70's I hired a young man to haul corn for me. I would pick two loads of corn and he would take it to town and sit in the long corn lines of those days. I would pick the next two loads and then pull it to town and exchange units with him

 

One time I went to town and he was dozing in my tractor while farmer after farmer would idle by him in line so they didn't awaken him. I don't know how many haulers passed him but they were sure amused about the whole deal.

 

Another time he put his feet up in the cab to relax and locked the cab door. He was stuck inside the cab until someone told him how to unlock it.

 

 

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

It is a shame when what ought to be a public awareness campaign turns into a form of legal assault, but that is the American Way, isn't it? I am pretty sure attorneys have utilized truckers' logs to document impairments for a long time now, I know that when Mike was on the railroad, the crew was " tied up" at twelve hours on duty, had to stop the train where it sat, and wait for replacments.

I have read for many years that a drowsy driver is no better than a drunk one. There are many well- meaning people who would never dream of taking the wheel under the influence of alcohol, who would still push themselves to make the miles, while they are impaired by lack of sleep.

Apnea is being more widely recognized and diagnosed...it could turn into NE of those things that is verynproblematic to have on your medical chart. This concerNs me mostly because eit could cause people who would benefit from CPAP, BPAP or other therapies, to avoid seeking treatment. The results will certainly be a miserable existence, and maybe premature death.

I know it probably doesn't matter to an accident victim and their family which factor altered the abilities of thr person who created the dangerous situation resulting in harm to them. Impaired is impaired.

Due to the time change, and running a late vet trip for my daughter's old dog last night, I was driving much later in the day than I
normally do. I was struck by the percentage of drivers I met who either didn't dim their blights, or were wandering across the center line, or both. This would have been the people who were commuting home from regular daylight jobs and shifts, probably a large percentage of them on cell phones.

DrIving is treated as an automatic activity by too many. I wonder if a reaction time test, similar to the breathalyzer ones DUI- convicted people are court-ordered to install, wouldn't resolve a multitude of such problems...impairements due to drink, drugs, drowsiness or deterioration of abilities due to age...yeah, that is next.
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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

  Back in the day when moldboard plowing every acre was the norm there was a guy who would make 1 pass across the ends first as far from the edge of the field as he wanted to plow in the normal direction.   He would snooze while plowing and when he hit the rough plowed ground on the ends it would wake him up to turn and go back the opposite way.  Now that's scary!

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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

Local truckers within 40 miles of home terminal are exempt from the majority of these log book regs---.

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

Funny you mentioned cell phones.  While I see the normal run of people driving while yakking, or even texting, who are a danger on the road, the closest I ever got to being run over, was once when I was walking across the street, and car turned at the intersection, no signal, without looking, while the driver was READING A NEWSPAPER.  Good thing I am still young and have a few reflexes left.  Had I been someone in their 50s or later, I would have had a bad case of road rash or bumper bruises, or both. 
He was left turning, and I darted to the middle of the street (the way I was facing, and the shortest distance to get out from directly in front of him) and as he drove by, I looked back, and was close enough that I could reach out & grab the side mirror if I wanted to.  He looked up from the paper he was reading (the Grand Island Independant) had a horrified look, stomped the brakes, and mouthed 'sorry'.  Once he was sure no one was under his car, he kept going, but I noticed the paper was still in his lap.

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

Texting is just the latest, and probably not the most distracting, of the manifestations of what I meant by treating driving as an automatic function. There are many thing we can do in multitask mode...driving just ought not to be one of them.
When I was in the hospital giving birth tour first child in 1977, a school secretary in our county lost her husband to a teenaged driver's decision to fiddle with the cassette player in his dash. I still recall a hilarious scene in a driver' s education movie ( this would have been in 1969) of a man eating a hardboiled egg while behind the wheel.

So, distracted and impaired driving isn't new...it is just more universal now. I admit to using the Bluetooth to take and place calls while driving, but generally when I am on open highway. I turn the radio down or off in traffic. Living where we do, a large percentage of the miles I drive are spent on open roads, much of it that sparsely- populated interstates. I know this is a
rationalization.

I NEVER text or read texts behind the wheel. I think technology could control the possibility of using it while in motion beyond a certain minimum speed, say walking pace.
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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

It amy be possible for technology to differentiate between a driver texting and a passenger texting, but it might be a challenge at the moment.

Some states are stepping up testing of older people.  we all know our eyesight is not as good at night as we age.  Our reflexes so down.  We get tunnel vision.  I refused to let my children ride  with my mother the last few years of her life.

Maybe the day will come when the state will get draconian about senior testing.  It will get a lot of push back if that happens. 

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SEmiretired
Senior Reader

Re: STAY ALERT OR STAY OFF THE ROAD

  Jim, I think you are a pilot and do some flying as I have gathered from some of your previous posts. We were sitting in the airport  "ready room" doing some hanger talking with 5 other Senior Citizen pilots about our Class 3 Medicals and one of the

younger 55 year old pilots told us about his recent exam. I didn't know that Cris had a sleep problem and took medication. The flight doctor told him the FAA is going to start looking at this problem and require more information from General Avaition pilots.

Doc warned him, get ready for more paper work and possibly more check ups and letters about your condition from your doctor

which will be submitted with you FAA Medical to Okalahoma City.  I do know of one pilot, who you physically described, who sometimes fell asleep in his Mooney 21 when it was on auto pilot. He always had some one in the right seat on 2-3 hour flights.

My son had a kidney transpant resulting from a bad accident, and every 2 years he has to have medical statements from his physican for the medical exam. I am 75, no drugs, pills or ailments, passed  the Third Class and the old Tri Pacer will fly for two more years.   Bob Ohio

 

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