We hear a lot about the dangers of drunk driving and distracted driving, and rightly so. But the spotlight justifiably placed on these crucial safety issues can obscure a problem that can be just as common and equally as dangerous: drowsy driving.
100,000 Crashes Each Year
Consider these statistics:
- According to a 2005 National Sleep Foundation survey, 60% of adult drivers – about 168 million people – say they have driven while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than one-third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.
- An Australian study showed that being awake for 18 hours led to driver impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05, and .10 after 24 hours.
Whether you are driving an 18-wheeler or a Prius, if you are driving while you’re tired or fatigued, you are putting yourself, your passengers, and others on the road at an increased risk of car accidents and injuries.
In efforts to raise awareness of the issue, the National Sleep Foundation has declared November 1-8, 2015 as national Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.
Looking Into Your Eyes
In addition to focusing attention on the problem, some researchers are also attempting to develop technology that can help reduce the risks of divers falling asleep at the wheel.
Some tools have been around for a while, such as lane-departure and pre-collision warning systems that have been installed by companies like Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, and Nissan in some of their vehicles.
While existing systems focus on what is happening outside the vehicle to sense that the driver might be fatigued, new ideas focus on looking at the driver to determine whether they are at risk of drifting off.
As recently reported in PC Magazine, Volvo is developing a system that uses dashboard sensors which work with an invisible light shined on the driver to determine whether a driver’s eyes are open or shut and for how long.
Also being tested are a touch-sensitive steering wheel that can detect when a driver is loosening his grip on the wheel, and a Bluetooth headset called “Vigo” that tracks blinks and body movements to sense fatigue.
Whether through awareness, technology, or simply all of us getting a little more sleep, efforts to reduce the needless tragedies that can result from tired and fatigued driving should be encouraged and supported.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, please give Dallas auto accident attorney Robert Greening a call at (972) 934-8900 or fill out our online form to discuss your situation.