Study About Drowsy Driving – Proves Nothing

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A study on drowsy driving was released by AAA on Monday.

I have read the report and find it to be ridiculous, to say the least. Although there is nothing funny about drowsy driving, this report was based upon too few drivers and phone surveys.

Now, an article written up in the Washington Post online, points towards truck drivers mainly, and the ludicrous comments left at the end of it.

The abstract of the study tells me that little time was actually spent on this. An abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper’s purpose.

Here is part of the abstract:

In a nationally representative telephone survey of U.S. drivers conducted in the spring of 2010, 41.0% of drivers admit to having “fallen asleep or nodded off” while driving at some point intheir lives, including 11.0% within the past year and 3.9% in the past month. More than one in four drivers admit to having driven when they were “so sleepy that [they] had a hard timekeeping [their] eyes open” within the past month.

Telephone survey? Really? I don’t know about you, but I rarely answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number, and if I do and it is a “telemarketer” I slam the phone in his or her ear. So this bit of their “information from their study” is ridiculous at best – as is most studies that are conducted.

I don’t need a “study” to tell me that there are people out driving drowsy – I was a truck driver for 15 years – I know firsthand. The article written on the Washington Post site also refers to the NTSB’s report they gave on the accident near Miami, Oklahoma June 26th, 2009. They concluded that the “76 year old” truck driver had the accident because of fatigue. Which I am not debating at all, he was 76 years old and a truck driver that started work very early in the morning’s, so I’m sure he was tired.

But, I guess I should not mention this truck drivers age as a factor in this accident. An accident that had happened prior to this one and actually caused the stoppage of the vehicles that were involved in the accident with the tractor trailer – was caused by an 18 year old driver that had fallen asleep and hit another tractor trailer.

After NTSB’s investigation it sent recommendations to FMCSA and NHTSA for the trucking industry. They sent this to FMCSA. Educate truckers with updated fatigue material, require that all motor carriers adopt a fatigue management program, require all heavy commercial vehicles to be equipped with video event recorders, require motor carriers to review and use video event recorder, to ensure that the driver is in accordance with company and regulatory rules and procedures.

This was the recommendation sent to the NHTSA: improve highway vehicle crash compatibility, develop performance standards for-front under-ride protection systems for trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds. After establishing performance standards, for-front under-ride protection systems for trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds, require that all such newly manufactured trucks be equipped with front under-ride protection systems meeting the performance standards.

Develop and implement minimum performance standards for event data recorders for trucks that address, at a minimum, data parameters to be recorded; data sampling rates; duration of recorded event; standardized or universal data imaging interface; data storage format; and device and data survivability for crush, impact, fluid exposure and immersion, and thermal exposure. After establishing performance standards for event data recorders for trucks, require that all such vehicles be equipped with event data recorders meeting the standards.

These recommendations don’t include any mention of what really is causing fatigue driving. I didn’t see any mention of the need for flexibility in the current hours-of-service that would allow truck drivers to take a needed break when they need it. Plus, I didn’t see any mention of the lack of parking places that cause these truck drivers not to get the rest needed. These reports again just prove my point about the “blind mice theory.”

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I'm just a EX-truck driver, trying to pass along a little information. I been in the Trucking Industry as a driver for over 15 years. I have driven both as an owner operator and as a company driver. I have also been a driver instructor for an accredited truck driving school in KY. I am no longer a truck driver, but I consider myself to be a watchdog for the trucking industry. In fact this site is the #1 site for getting the real news about trucking. We don't hold back here, you will hear the full story. Twitter | |Truck Drivers News Facebook
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2 Responses to Study About Drowsy Driving – Proves Nothing

  1. Asia Reeves says:

    Just as we suspected–proves absolutely nothing. How long will they continue to attack our industry and us? I see no end in sight, unfortunately. As much as I’d love to be indignant over this charade, another matter has my blood boiling. In our industry, companies, law enforcement, and the public in general stress how sleepy truckers are a danger to the highway. “Pull over if you get sleepy,” they lament, yet at the same time, they endorse manufacturers who build “Smart Cars That Detects When A Driver Is Sleepy”. What hypocrisy! So, it’s perfectly OK for car drivers to drive while tired, yet, demonize and put advanced technology into place if truckers nod off once? “Yea, Asia, but Truckers are supposed to be the professionals. They can do more damage.” Are you kidding me? Have they not heard about the researchers from Los Angeles that reported that about 75 percent of truck-related accidents were caused by motorists other than the truck drivers? So we’re down to sleepy truckers pull over–sleepy motorists buy sleep detector Smart Cars. You gotta love these double standards!

    Always a pleasure reading your articles, Jason. Keep up the good work. You provide so much info to us, brother. God bless you.

    Reply
  2. Marly @CTSIGlobal says:

    Thanks for the discussion, Jason!

    Telephone survey is actually a pretty standard way of conducting tests like this. Arguments similar to those against phone surveys could be made for other methods: throwing out a survey received in the mail, closing an ad to participate in an online survey, etc. However, the Methods section mentions that the data uses information from 1,728 respondents (those who had driven within the past 30 days), so I don’t see anything wrong with the methodology or the sample size.

    That said, I think you’re on target about the ages. As you mentioned, both an 18-year-old and a 76-year-old had fallen asleep at the wheel, so age does not seem to be relevant in this case. Likewise, the vehicle model years would not have had much bearing on the sizes or weights of the cars in the accident but were mentioned anyway.

    Reply

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