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November 02, 2015

November 1-8, 2015, is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Drowsy_driving_awareness-iStock_000046838040_SmallJust like drugs or alcohol, sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, and impairs judgment. And just like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drowsy driving can be fatal.

That's why the first week of November is designated Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. This annual campaign provides public education about the under-reported risks of driving while drowsy and countermeasures to improve safety on the road.

In a poll of drivers surveyed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37% of drivers admitted to falling asleep at the wheel at some point in their driving career, and 8% admitted doing so in the past six months. I remember having a really hard time staying focused on my daily commute when my boys (now 22 and 12) were just babies, so I personally appreciate this focus on drowsy driving.

Attention_assistSeveral automotive manufacturers now offer attention assistance technology to determine when a driver is tired or falling asleep. Audible and sensory warnings such as a chime, tap on the brakes, tug on the shoulder belt, and/or an illuminated cup-of-coffee icon on the instrument panel can help alert the driver that it might be time to take a break. Such systems are available from BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo.

The drivers at highest risk are third shift workers, people who drive a substantial number of miles each day, those with unrecognized sleep disorders, and those taking medication containing sedatives. Read more about how intelligent technology in today's cars can help you be a better driver here at AskPatty.

Drowsy_driving_awareness-iStock_000020008615_SmallThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since, according to it’s nearly impossible to determine with certainty the cause of a fatal crash where drowsy driving is suspected.

Clues at a crash scene that tell investigators that the person fell asleep at the wheel are numerous: For example, skid marks or evidence of other evasive maneuvers are usually absent from the drowsy driving crash scene. Also, drowsy driving accidents usually involve only one vehicle where the driver is alone and the injuries tend to be serious or fatal.




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