Although it is more difficult to measure than the level of alcohol in a person’s body, fatigue is frequently cited by investigators as a factor in accidents in the air, on the water and on railways and highways. Over the past four decades, more than 320 fatigue-related incidents have taken nearly 750 lives in airplane crashes alone, reports the Washington Post. Experts say fatigue is an issue that needs more attention, but the regulatory process sometimes allows proposals to languish for decades, according to an analysis by News21, a national university student reporting project, and the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization.
The National Transportation Safety Board has issued 138 fatigue-related safety recommendations since its inception in 1967. Only 68 have been implemented, according to the analysis. Some of the proposals are still pending decades after they were issued. In other cases, the NTSB has simply given up. “We need to quit talking about fatigue and we need to start trying to do something about it,” said NTSB board member Robert L. Sumwalt, a former commercial pilot.