Does this sound familiar? You're driving on a quiet stretch of highway. Your eyelids start drooping. You blink hard to keep your eyes focused. Your head begins to nod, and you snap it up into position. Yet you continue driving, thinking you can manage your obvious fatigue.
This is drowsy driving, and it is a danger to everyone on the road.
According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2009, drowsy driving crashes injured more than 30,000 people. And, because police can't always determine with certainty when driver fatigue causes a crash, the actual number may be higher.
At the Department of Transportation, safety is our number one priority. We have worked hard to reduce the risks of fatigue among airline pilots, commercial drivers, and rail and transit operators. But we also recognize that drowsy driving is a problem for the rest of us on America's roads.
And we are working hard to make our roads safer.
Innovations introduced by our Federal Highway Administration have already helped. Continuous shoulder rumble strips and raised lane dividers alert drivers when their vehicles drift. Cable barriers reduce the risk of collisions.
And a new approach called Safety Edge will help even more. This approach paves the edge of a road at an angle of 30 degrees instead of 90 degrees. This more gradual separation allows a driver whose car has drifted to steer the vehicle back onto the roadway more safely.
Our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also entered into a cooperative agreement with a group of automakers to help develop vehicle-to-vehicle communications. With features like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, and Advanced Object Detection, vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems can alert drivers to potentially critical situations.
This technology holds great promise for increasing driver awareness and safety.