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Drowsy Driving: Are Safety Officials Ignoring A Deadly Problem?

An MSNBC series suggests that while a sleep-deprived motorist is in many cases just as hazardous as a drunk one, federal transportation safety guidelines addressing the dangers of drowsy driving have not been adequately adopted by other federal agencies. 

Conclusions were based on what many say is a disconnect between research into the dangers of sleep-deprived driving and the lackluster adoption of safety recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The NTSB issued 138 fatigue-related safety recommendations for motorists, pilots and other operators of various types of vehicles. But only 68 have been implemented by federal agencies, MSNBC reported.

Incidents of drowsy driving are not treated like DUIs or prosecuted as crimes. But most Chicago DUI lawyers could probably share some interesting perspectives of drowsy driving.

The investigative series is based on an investigative report by the Center for Public Integrity. Some of the barriers to adopting the NTSB's recommendations have to do with bureaucracy, the organization pointed out, while cultural attitudes toward fatigue have not reached a noticeable level of awareness.

Malcolm Brenner, an NTSB investigator, said he believes public attitudes toward sleep-deprived driving are akin to those toward drunk driving two decades ago:

"At one time, there was a sense that if you're under alcohol you can power your way through it, but that's no longer tolerated."

Research conducted in several studies around the world concludes that someone who has not slept for 24 hours typically drives like someone who has a 0.10 percent blood-alcohol concentration, which is above the legal limit. Steven Hursh of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, an experienced researcher of fatigue, offered his assessment:

"Temporarily, a person who otherwise is very experienced, very well trained, very, very good at what they do -- fatigue can make that person stupid."

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