Fall can be a dangerous time for pedestrians, as dusk becomes part of rush hour. The end of daylight savings time moves sundown right into the commute, meaning that drivers are forced to adjust to less ambient light and more light from headlights and streetlights. The difference in light changes the appearance of things. It changes the shadows. Small moving objects like pedestrians seem to disappear.
If you drive on a regular basis, you may have experienced it: that overwhelming fatigue that can creep in as the hum of traffic on a busy roadway lulls you. Your head starts feeling heavy and your eyelids begin to droop. You might try to open a window or turn up the stereo to snap yourself out of it, but the fact remains: Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, and leads to countless accidents that injure or kill people. This is especially true for commercial truckers who drive long distances on little sleep.
Perhaps all the recent ado concerning the impairing effects of driving while drowsy is overstated. After all, the more celebrated killer on American roadways - the drunk driver - is responsible for a fatality in one of every three car accidents he or she is involved in.
Our immediately preceding blog post discussed the second annual U.S. Transportation Department summit on distracted driving. The present blog might reasonably be regarded as a tandem piece. It takes a look at what National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") traffic experts have learned over the years in studies focusing on driver fatigue and their recommendations for loosening the tight nexus between sleep-deprived motorists and car accidents.