Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York are the recent recipients of grants from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. (NRSF) to implement innovative drowsy driving prevention campaigns.
Each state will receive $15,000 in funding to address the problem of drowsy driving with unique solutions. The winning programs for 2019 will utilize public awareness campaigns, virtual reality and innovative partnerships to engage key audiences.
Drowsy driving is a major problem on the nation's roadway. In 2017 alone, drowsy driving claimed 795 lives in the U.S., according to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet falling asleep at the wheel is preventable, which is why GHSA and NRSF have offered the grants for three consecutive years.
While eight states applied for the 2019 grants, the five winners were selected by a panel of issue experts that reviewed all applications against a number of key criteria.
Keeping fatigued drivers off the roads is the overall objective of the grant program. Winning states will use the funding to implement the following initiatives:
The Georgia Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) will partner with the Department of Agriculture to raise awareness of drowsy driving through a presence at the Georgia National Fair. GOHS also will produce additional materials to be distributed at other events and share NRSF drowsy driving materials across a variety of media platforms.
The Iowa Departments of Transportation, Public Safety, Public Health and the Iowa Insurance Division will expand on Zero Fatalities Iowa's "Don't let the Sleepyzzz get you" campaign from 2017 using virtual reality. Partnering with Iowa State University, Zero Fatalities Iowa will produce a 60 to 90 second virtual reality experience affirming the message that drowsy driving is not a game.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS) will purchase wearable sleep measurement tools and software to assist research being conducted by the University of Minnesota's HumanFIRST Laboratory on the impact of sleep patterns and prolonged wakefulness on driver safety, working to improve understanding and detection of driver fatigue nationwide.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation, Highway Safety Office (NDOT-HSO) will conduct a drowsy driving injury prevention initiative, focusing on education for young adult and senior drivers. The initiative includes four coordinated events covering seven counties, providing Drowsy Driving workshops to educate community partners about traffic safety concerns and address drowsy driving injury prevention.
The New York Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (NYSGTSC) will partner with the New York State Partnership against Drowsy Driving and Stony Brook University's School of Health Technology and Management to educate law enforcement personnel about the dangers of drowsy driving through a webinar.