How to Prevent A Drowsy Driving Accident or Fatality

AAA Foundation for Traffic Society findings show that more than 40% of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road.

drowsy driving accident investigation road trip UHP fatality AAA fatigued driving accidents Cleared2Drive Good2GoAlmost half of the traffic fatalities on Utah County highways this year have been the result of drowsy driving.

“We’re mystified and really quite frustrated,” said Lt. Al Christianson with the Utah Highway Patrol, adding that last year, the county had only seven fatalities all year. “This year we’ve already had 23, and the year’s not over yet.”

Three of the six fatigued driving accidents that resulted in fatalities were on Interstate 15, two were on U.S. 6 and one was on U.S. 89. In each case, Christianson said, the drivers didn’t think they were quite as tired as they were. He pointed to a triple fatality in September, when a family’s van rolled on I-15 near Santaquin. They were returning to Provo after a long trip.  “They’re within 20 miles of their destination when their driver falls asleep, and they die,” he said.

What’s even scarier is the number of near-misses. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Society released findings showing that more than 40 percent of drivers have fallen asleep while on the road. That’s two out of every five drivers, or about 164,000 of the approximately 400,000 drivers on I-15 in Utah County on a daily basis.

The frightening aspect of driving while tired is that anyone could fall victim to it and not realize it at the time. While in the past there had been no device or technology to measure exhaustion, there is a new technology now available called the Cleared2Drive System that measures impairment even from fatigue or sleep deprivation.   Many people don’t realize how tired they are when they get into their car, or they overestimate their ability to remain alert but the Cleared2Drive System can and will prevent them from being able to start their vehicle.

But if the statistics tell drivers anything, it’s that they need to evaluate before a road trip if they are awake enough to make it and be willing to pull over if they’re not; UHP has even put road signs along I-15 encouraging drowsy drivers to exit.  Springville resident Jack Angus said when he starts running over the rumble strips on the freeway he’s too tired, and he’ll pull off at the next exit and catch a quick nap or switch drivers if someone else is in the car.  “I would never take a chance,” he said. “That’s worse than driving drunk or something.”

It’s at least on equal footing; a person who has been awake for 24 hours has the equivalent mental state and reaction time as a person with a blood alcohol content of .10.  Police officers are trained now to watch for drowsy drivers and are no longer accepting “I’m just tired” as a reason for unsafe driving.

Police officers can cite people for drowsy driving, although it is difficult to prove. They look for poor driving patterns like swerving or not staying in their lanes, but most often they realize a driver is too tired only during an accident investigation. People should avoid traveling too late at night or allowing all the passengers in their car to fall asleep instead of relying on temporary fixes.

Advertisements

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: