NHTSA estimates that 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths are caused by drowsy driving each year in the United States. In 2012, 443 crashes were attributed to drowsy driving in Minnesota alone. Currently, an objective method to assess driver fatigue is not available and subjective assessments used in the past have proven to be problematic. Developing and validating an objective measure of fatigue is paramount for safety efforts, especially for special motorist groups, such as commercial motor vehicle drivers, and more specifically for snow plow drivers. Fatigue has been shown to increase the likelihood that a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crash is fatal (Bunn, Slavova, Strattman, & Browning, 2005). Moreover, sleep related crashes are known to increase for CMV drivers who work night shifts or unusual work schedules (Stutts, Wilkins, Osberg, & Vaughn, 2003). These types of late and erratic schedules are common among snow plow drivers, especially in the case of unpredictable snow emergencies (Camden, et al, 2014).
The project aims to validate an objective roadside tool to assess fatigue. The roadside tool will utilize a reliable and established visual psychophysics method to measure a person’s state of arousal. The main outcomes of the study will be to: 1) Develop a portable, cost effective, and non-invasive measurement tool to assess fatigue, 2) validate the measurement tool as an accurate indicator of fatigue in individuals working long, non-transportation related, shifts, and 3) develop a standard measurement protocol and re-validate the accuracy of the measurement tool to assess snow plow drivers’ fitness for duty and intermediate alertness levels during long shifts.