Driver fatigue and the law from the perspective of police officers and prosecutors
Journal article, 2013
Even though police officers and prosecutors play a key role in traffic law application, little is known about their experiences, attitudes, and opinions regarding the complex issue of driver fatigue and the law. This paper is based on an extensive online survey collected from traffic (N = 129) and local (N = 100) police officers and prosecutors (N = 96) in the context of Finnish traffic law, which forbids driving while fatigued in an article relating to a driver's fitness to drive. While encountering fatigued drivers is very common for police officers, only a small proportion has received training about how to recognize and deal with fatigued drivers. Driving while extremely fatigued is considered rather or extremely negligent behavior by almost all respondents. Although agreement between these three groups exists regarding several issues, they disagree about whether the current law is specific enough, and whether experts might be valuable in court when discussing the possible contribution of fatigue to the cause of a crash. We discuss the application of the law and opinions about the current law formulation, experience and education, as well as general awareness and attitudes, taking into consideration the different nature of police and prosecutor work.