Sleep Health Watchdog: Check out these change agents for drowsy driving prevention

These movers and shakers have been raising awareness about drowsy driving across the decades

Without the work of dedicated activists from the grassroots, the medical research field, and legislators, we might know a lot less about the clear and present danger that is drowsy driving.

sleep health watchdogSHC would like to shine the spotlight on those people who are working (or have worked) to raise awareness about the major public health and safety risks that come with drowsy driving.

Without the work of these fine individuals, many of us would not be aware of:

⇒ the high price of driver fatigue (fatalities, insurance payouts, property damage, job loss, disability)

⇒ the lack of public recognition that driver fatigue is preventable

⇒  the lack of laws making drowsy driving as punishable as “driving under the influence”

⇒ the lack of acceptable legal options for recuperating loss for victims of drowsy drivers

⇒ the insidious way that sleep deprivation can turn a vehicle into a dangerous and deadly weapon 

Top Ten Drowsy Driving Activists

In alphabetical order

About: This organization formed in the mid 1940s to research and regulate traffic safety.
Actions: The AAA currently conducts ongoing research on driver fatigue and considers drowsy driving a priority research area. They are currently investigating Crash Risks of Distracted and Drowsy Driving. Their completed investigations (since 1993) are widely cited and are too numerous to list here.
Follow in Twitter: @AAAFTS
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

DR. WILLIAM DEMENT (Sleep Medicine Researcher)
Sleep Research Center and Stanford University
About: Dement is considered one of the pioneers of American sleep research and is sometimes referred to as the American father of sleep medicine. He was one of the first sleep researchers to inquire into drowsy driving as a public health and safety threat.
Actions: Wrote “The Perils of Drowsy Driving” for the New England Journal of Medicine (1997); conducted groundbreaking research comparing drowsy driving to drunk driving (1997); co-authored Chapter 62 of Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, Fifth Edition, entitled “Sleep Medicine, Public Policy, and Public Health” with Drs. James K. Walsh and David F. Dinges (2005); participated in the National Sleep Foundation Drowsy Driving Consensus Working Group that presented “A multidisciplinary expert consensus statement on drowsy driving” (2016).
Follow in Twitter: @SleepAndDreams ‏
Like in Facebook:

SHEILA FAULKNER (Citizen Activist)
About: Faulkner lost her 28-year-old son to a drowsy driving accident in 2006. The driver of the car he was in had been awake for at least 22 hours prior and had fallen asleep at the wheel. The driver was never charged, and Faulkner felt like there was no real justice served, so she became Alabama state’s leading activist for drowsy driving laws.
Actions: Founded Alabama’s first-ever Drowsy Driving Awareness Day on November 19 (Alabama Senate Joint Resolution 71, 2016); currently working with Alabama state Sen. Jimmy Holley to create a statewide drowsy driving law that would penalize drowsy driving as an offense.
Drowsy driving bill now before the Alabama Senate (PDF):

CHRISTIAN GUILLEMINAULT (Sleep Medicine Researcher)
Stanford University
About: Guilleminault is considered one of the pioneers of sleep research.
Actions: As a sleep researcher, he collaborated with French highway patrols to conduct seminal studies collecting data addressing the topic of drowsy driving (1996).
Like in Facebook:

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON (Media Maven & Sleep Health Activist)
Huffington Post
About: Ardent activist for ending sleep deprivation and eliminating cultural obstacles to healthy sleep. Founder and CEO of Thrive Global.
Actions: Author of The Sleep Revolution (2016); wrote “A Wake-Up Call to End Drowsy Driving” (includes video) (2016)
Follow in Twitter: @HuffPost
Like and Follow in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

PHIL KONSTANTIN (Citizen Activist)
About: This former California Highway Patrol officer who lost his wife, Robyn, when she fell asleep at the wheel and died in the ensuring car accident in 1999.
Actions: Established April 6 as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day in California in 2005 (read SHC’s feature on Konstantin here); created this PSA in YouTube to raise awareness (
Drowsy Driving Awareness Day feature:
Like and Follow in Facebook:

CAROLE MCDONNELL (Citizen Activist)
About: The death of Carole McDonnell’s daughter, Maggie, to a drowsy driving accident inspired this mother to ultimately become a citizen lobbyist to criminalize drowsy driving.
Actions: McDonnell enacted the nation’s first drowsy driving law, “Maggie’s Law,” which establishes fatigued driving as recklessness under the state’s vehicular homicide statute. She also spoke out following the NJ collision involving a fatigued Walmart truck driver and a limousine transporting actor-comedian Tracy Morgan, comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and others on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash resulted in the death of McNair, critical injuries to Morgan and some of the occupants, and $100 million in settlements. Finally, McDonnell’s efforts spawned this video about the making of Maggie’s Law.

DR. MARK ROSEKIND (Safety Administrator)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
About: This former NASA analyst has consulted on sleep and alertness strategies for a wide variety of professionals. Rosekind served the National Traffic Safety Board between 2010 and 2014.
Actions: Since his current tenure began at the NHTSA in 2015, Rosekind has made drowsy driving a major focus, with his initiatives investigating vehicular collisions (commercial truck drivers and commuter rail systems, in particular) leading to the declaration that drowsy driving is “a public health crisis.” He continues to drive the NHTSA to focus on sound scientific research into sleep deprivation in order to promote new legislative efforts toward regulations and mandates regarding the sleep health and habits of commercial and public vehicle operators.
Like in Facebook:
Connect in LinkedIn:

CHUCK SCHUMER (Legislator)
United States Senate
About: US Senator for New York and Democratic Minority Leader
Actions: Thrown support behind many efforts to regulate commercial truck drivers and commuter railway engineers to prevent drowsy driving. Specifically, Schumer has advocated for more sleep disorder testing among all vehicle operators, especially looking for undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea as possible causes for chronic sleep deprivation.
Follow in Twitter: @SenSchumer
Like and Follow in Facebook:

DR. JANE STUTTS (Social Psychologist, Researcher, Author)
Highway Safety Research Center
About: Lifetime researcher of traffic safety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Actions: Stutts has authored dozens of print and online books and research documents since the 1970s relating to drowsy driving and traffic safety, such as “Why do people have drowsy crashes: Input from drivers who just did” (1999),” “Sleep deprivation countermeasures for motorist safety (Synthesis of highway practice)” (2000), and “The link between fatigue and safety (2011).” She is currently investigating autonomous vehicles as a solution to drowsy-driving risks on US highways.

Other like-minded efforts to prevent #drowsydriving, educate people about #driverfatigue and safety, and actively engage in events to raise awareness to make sure all drivers are awake at the wheel include those behind these Twitter handles, which SHC also likes and follows:

About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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