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Hersman: Fatigue endangers workers, passengers

Posted on March 5, 2010

On Friday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman encouraged the sleep research and healthcare community to continue their efforts to educate transportation policy makers of the dangers of fatigue in all modes of transportation.

Speaking before the annual conference of the National Sleep Foundation in Washington, D.C., Chairman Hersman said fatigue has been a concern for the NTSB since the creation of the agency in 1967 and an issue on its Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements since the list was established in 1990.

"The work of the National Sleep Foundation and other organizations and individuals is critical to improving transportation safety policy," said Chairman Hersman. "The NTSB is interested and willing to partner with you in developing a greater awareness of fatigue."

Hersman highlighted a number of accident investigations across all transportation modes that included fatigue as the probable cause or a contributing factor to accidents. As a result, the NTSB has made safety recommendations that range from deploying fatigue detection systems to reduce the occurrence of accidents to installing electronic on-board recorders that collect and maintain hours of service data on vehicle operators.

Hersman remarked that while there are still no definitive tools to conclusively identify the degree to which a person is fatigued, the major challenge is to ensure that all those in transportation report to work rested and fit for duty — for their own safety and for the safety of those they are transporting.

To view the complete text of Chairman Hersman's speech, click here.

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