Four States Getting Grants to Combat Drowsy Driving

"Drowsy driving is an overlooked and underfunded issue in highway safety," said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins, "yet our 2016 report found that tired drivers contribute to 328,000 crashes annually and cost society $109 billion a year. We appreciate The National Road Safety Foundation supporting these programs and expect that some may become models that others can replicate."

The states of Iowa, Maryland, Nevada, and Tennessee will each receive $15,000 in grant funding from the Governors Highway Safety Association and The National Road Safety Foundation to launch campaigns this year to help prevent drowsy driving, the two organizations announced. Twelve states applied for the grants, and a panel of drowsy driving experts reviewed their applications and selected the winners. The grant program was developed to complement a 2016 GHSA report containing recommendations for states to tackle the problem of drowsy driving.

The specific planned state activities include:

  • The Iowa Department of Transportation will develop a public awareness campaign putting drowsy driving on par with drunk, drugged, and distracted driving, using messages at state-owned rest areas and on social media that urge drivers to stop and rest.
  • The Maryland Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office will focus its efforts on medical shift workers, a population at greater risk for drowsy driving, using educational materials, a social media campaign, PowerPoint slide templates, an online quiz offering continuing education credit, and more.
  • The Nevada Office of Traffic Safety will provide training for law enforcement personnel to help them better understand the science behind drowsy driving and equip them with the skills they need to recognize drowsy driving behavior, educate the public on the seriousness of the problem, and collect more comprehensive data on the number of traffic stops related to drowsy driving, and the state will develop educational material and a social media campaign for additional public awareness.
  • The Tennessee Highway Safety Office will engage with teens and truck drivers, partnering with SADD Tennessee to encourage students to develop action plans to educate their peers and communities about the dangers of drowsy driving. Working through the Tennessee Trucking Foundation, Tennessee's Road Team Captains (professional truck drivers with excellent driving records) will share drowsy driving prevention messages with the public across the state.

"Drowsy driving is an overlooked and underfunded issue in highway safety," said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins, "yet our 2016 report found that tired drivers contribute to 328,000 crashes annually and cost society $109 billion a year. We appreciate The National Road Safety Foundation supporting these programs and expect that some may become models that others can replicate."

Michelle Anderson, director of operations for NRSF, said drowsy driving, "along with many other causes of traffic crashes, is totally preventable. It is our hope that a greater awareness is raised through these state initiatives to encourage other states to do the same. Together we can minimize senseless tragedies on our roads."

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