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October 16, 1996

Wake-up Call Aimed at Drowsy Drivers: Message Is 'Drive Alert, Arrive Alive'

Author Affiliations

JAMA contributor

JAMA. 1996;276(15):1209-1210. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540150011005

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DURING THE Persian Gulf War in 1991, 6 US Bradley infantry fighting vehicles encountered 6 Iraqi armored personnel carriers at 2 AM on a rainy night. A firefight erupted. All 6 of the Iraqi vehicles were destroyed by the Americans. So were 2 of the Bradleys.

This friendly fire incident is an extreme example of the way sleepiness may undermine driving performance, said Gregory Belenky, MD, a colonel in the US Army Medical Corps and director of the Division of Neuropsychiatry at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bethesda, Md. He spoke at a "Drive Alert, Arrive Alive" symposium sponsored by the Washington, DC-based National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

The 2 Bradleys that were destroyed, Belenky said, were on the left flank of the Bradley platoon. They were maneuvering in and around the burning Iraqi vehicles. They were destroyed by the 2 Bradleys on the right flank of the platoon, whose