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Boston Globe: "Legislative panel sounds wake-up call on drowsy driving"

November 7, 2008



By Boston Globe staff member John C. Drake, 11/07/2008

"When a drowsy driver starts resorting to turning up the car radio and cracking the window to try to stay awake, it is a sign that the motorist should not be behind the wheel, a researcher yesterday told a state committee considering whether to beef up laws to address the dangers of falling asleep on the road. People see them as a counter-measure to stay awake when really they are another way of causing an accident," Clare Anderson, a sleep specialist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, told a special commission on drowsy driving yesterday. Drowsy drivers, whose response times already are slowed, she said, are more likely to be impaired by distractions in their cars.

"The state began investigating drowsy driving after Major Robert Raneri, an Army reservist, was killed when the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car driven by a sleep-deprived 19-year-old in Pepperell in 2002.

"Dr. Charles Czeisler, a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, estimates that as many as 600 sleep-related crashes a year in Massachusetts cause serious injuries and that 90 people a year die in such crashes. One proposal the commission is considering would require police to have the option of including sleep deprivation as a contributing factor in reports on car crashes, so the state can better assess the problem's scope.

"Steven Lockley, assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told the panel that police officers and firefighters also are at risk of drowsy driving. He suggested that 40 percent of the motor vehicle accidents involving police officers are probably related to drowsy driving, even though they rarely are reported as such."

Read the entire article on the Boston Globe website.

Czeisler Drowsy Driving Commission Panel

Dr. Czeisler at the Massachusetts Drowsy Driving Commission Panel




Related Links
Lawmakers To Crack Down On Drowsy Drivers (TheBostonChannel.com)

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