Drowsy Driving: Legal, Ethical and Policy Considerations for a New Regulatory Framework

CHHS Senior Law & Policy Analyst Clark Lee, JD, will participate in an exploratory seminar on the legal, ethical, and policy considerations for the regulation of drowsy driving.

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is committed to advancing knowledge across disciplinary boundaries and to creating an intellectual community that inspires new perspectives, thereby transforming research and scholarship. A major goal of a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Exploratory Seminar is to foster cooperation and collaboration among faculty from different Harvard schools and units, enabling intellectual paths to merge that may not otherwise have intersected. Exploratory Seminars convene scholars, researchers, and others for short-term collaborations of one to three days. Participants come from all academic fields and the professions. These seminars encourage and enable scholars and researchers to take intellectual risks while working in a congenial environment with colleagues from their own or other fields to define new questions, test hypotheses, and advance knowledge. The seminars frequently jumpstart collaborations and initiate future research.

Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) result in approximately 43,000 deaths each year in the United States, making them the eighth leading cause of mortality at all ages. While the role of alcohol and drugs in MVCs has long been recognized, the importance of drowsiness has only recently begun to be appreciated. In fact drowsiness (or sleepiness) surpasses alcohol and drugs as the greatest identifiable and preventable cause of accidents in all modes of transport. Government responses to societal issues related to drowsiness have taken a number of forms, and in certain instances have involved the creation of programs intended to address drowsiness directly as a matter of law and public policy. Some of the challenges for designing and implementing a universal framework for managing drowsy driving include regulatory authority, jurisdictional limits, industry-specific demands, public awareness, and the need to account for the various causes and effects of drowsiness.

This Exploratory Seminar will consist of a multidisciplinary group of participants to explore innovative solutions to address the complex issue of drowsy driving. Participants include experts in sleep medicine, law, business, policy, occupational health, transportation and law enforcement. The seminar program will provide a platform for developing a new policy and research agenda, and brings together junior and senior faculty from across the Harvard community, and experts based at other institutions in the United States and Australia.

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