Drowsy driving is a serious problem on the roads. From 2009 through 2013, authorities cite drowsy driving as causing at least 72,000 motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration drowsy driving caused nearly a thousand deaths in 2015 alone.
While few like to admit it, many drivers experience periods of micro sleep while driving. These episodes are sometimes described as a brief state of drowsy unconsciousness that can happen even while the eyes remain open. “Drowsy driving is more pervasive than we recognize, more commonplace and we are all guilty of it”, according to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association entitled, “Wake Up Call! Understanding Drowsy Driving and What States Can Do About It” The overwhelming advice is to “get more sleep.”
Unfortunately, many drivers believe they can manage to drive drowsy, similar to drivers who stubbornly choose to drive when impaired by alcohol. In fact, driver fatigue is akin to drunk driving, with drivers experiencing reduced attention, slower reaction times and even nodding off behind the wheel. According to researchers, a driver awake for 18 hours will perform similar to someone with a 0.05% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content); at 21 hours, a drowsy driver mimics a 0.08% alcohol level, the legal limit for DUI or OWI.
Many recall recent high profile motor vehicle accidents that have been attributed to driver fatigue. One involved a fatal collision between a drowsy trucker and a vehicle carrying comedian Tracy Morgan on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2014. Another accident in 2011 involving a casino charter bus, killed 15 passengers and injured 17 after the bus driver presumably fell asleep behind the wheel. Unfortunately, these accidents are only the tip of the iceberg according to authorities who believe there are many more accidents which may be the result of drowsy driving where the cause is not identified.
Beyond the common sense solutions of pulling over to get a quick nap or avoiding driving altogether when sleep deprived, advances in car technology may hold the key to waking up drowsy drivers or providing an assist when needed. While some car makers already offer drowsiness detection systems that trigger an alarm when erratic car movement is detected, newer technology will delve into driver bio-signs such as monitoring heart rate, breathing, eye movement and the like to detect drowsy driving. In a near futuristic world, technology experts foresee a car being able to take over the wheel pulling a sleepy driver to the side of the road or, if cars will indeed be able to communicate with each other via computer, evasive action will be possible to avoid cars operated by impaired drivers.
Iowa Driver Fatigue Car Accident Attorney
Sadly, every year, family members lose loved ones to traffic accidents or have family members who suffer devastating injuries at the hands of a negligent driver. Fatigued driving, drunk or drugged driving and distracted driving all play a significant role in the number of car accident fatalities across the nation and in Iowa. If you or a family member has been injured in an Iowa car or truck accident, contact the personal injury Law Offices of Marc Humphrey for assistance. We understand that a motor vehicle accident can have an enormous impact on a victim’s life – and their family – and we are here to help. Call 515-331-3510 to speak with an experienced Iowa driver fatigue car accident injury attorney today.
Source: New York Times, “Sleepy Behind the Wheel? Some Cars Can Tell”, By Eric A. Taub, March 16, 2017