Leslie Stahl
Airdate: 3/16/2008
CBS Broadcasting Inc. (C)

Fatigue is a critical element in driver reaction times. It is important for all drivers to have a firm understanding of fatigue awareness. Lesley Stahl finds out why we sleep and learns that sleep is as important to our health as nutrition and exercise.

Video excerpt: (Courtesy of cbsnews.com)
“The testing for alertness and reaction time has real-world relevance. Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute did a study of what causes car crashes. They got 241 volunteers to agree to have their cars wired with five cameras each. Over a year’s time they found that driving drowsy was the riskiest behavior of all. ‘You only need two seconds to have a lapse, in driving a car at 60 miles an hour, to drift completely out lane. You’re off the road in four seconds. And those kinds of lapses and slowed reaction times begin to appear fairly early.’ The Exxon Valdez spill happened after midnight with a man at the helm who’d slept only four hours the night before; Chernobyl and Three Mile Island also occurred late at night and involved human error. And the assistant captain who crashed the Staten Island ferry into a pier, admitted that he felt exhausted before the accident.”