Drowsy Driving Behind 1 in 6 Fatal Traffic Accidents

Almost half of all drivers have, at one point or another, fallen asleep while driving, reports CBS News. According to CBS News national correspondent, Jim Axelrod, about 41 percent of drivers admit to having had “fallen asleep or nodded off” at least once.

The data was based on a survey conducted by AAA that revealed that one in 10 drivers admitted to having fallen asleep in the past year, over half on a highway, with one in six <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/car_accidents">traffic accidents ending in death involving a so-called drowsy driver, said CBS News.

“Most people think they can control it, but the research show nearly 60 percent of people fall asleep just an hour into their trip,” said Nancy White of AAA, quoted CBS News. “Everybody has periods of drowsiness while driving,” said Thomas Gallaghy, who fell asleep while driving one afternoon, said CBS News. He hit a tree; his wife died instantly. “What really kills is the belief by the driver that he or she is going to get through it,” Gallaghy added, quoted CBS News.

Those on-the-road rumble strips that vibrate a car that veers off the road and which are meant to startle a driver awake, are considered outdated when compared to technology that essentially reads driver behavior, said CBS News. For instance, the technology is in some Mercedes Benz vehicles and can sense “minor steering errors abruptly corrected or how many times a driver crosses in or out of lanes. If the 70-point check system determines it is early stage drowsy driving, an alarm sounds on the instrument panel,” reported CBS news.

AAA is also currently airing public service announcements as well, said CBS News. “A big part of it is public education,” White said. “People really understanding the problem and stopping the behavior,” quoted CBS News.

We recently wrote that distracted driving crashes were linked to 5,474 fatalities and 448,000 injuries nationwide in 2009, citing a prior ABC News report. “People [need to] take personal responsibility for the fact that they’re driving a three or four thousand pound car,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, speaking to ABC News.

Although traffic deaths did drop to their lowest levels in 2009 since 1950—due in part, to mandatory seatbelt laws and a decrease in drinking and driving—drivers are, increasingly, using cell phones, which led to an increase of 16 percent from 10 percent for traffic deaths tied to distracted driving crashes linked to cell phones from 2005 to 2009. “We’re right at the starting gate here in terms of where the country was at when nobody buckled up and now 85 percent of the people buckle up,” LaHood said. “It took 10 years to get that,” he added, quoted ABC News. “If you’re looking down at a cell phone for four seconds or a texting device for four seconds, you’re driving the length of a football field without looking at the road,” La Hood added.

In January, we wrote that truckers and bus drivers are banned from texting when driving and the Washington Post reported that cell phone use and texting while driving leads to 1.6 million accidents annually, according to National Safety Council (NSC) estimates.

In July, Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute revealed that texting truckers are 23 times likelier to either be involved in a crash or a near miss, said the Washington Post. According to the NSC, 1.4 million crashes each year are caused by drivers using cell phones; some 200,000 additional crashes each year caused by drivers who are texting.

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