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A quick look at drowsy driving

While you may try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night, you could be one of the many Americans who fail to wake up each morning fully rested. When you hop behind the wheel of your vehicle, you may not think twice about being too tired to drive. The truth is, drowsy driving is a serious problem in Tennessee and across the country. Although obtaining an accurate number of how many car accidents, injuries and deaths involve drowsy drivers is nearly impossible, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that at least 846 people were killed in 2014 as a result of drowsy motorists.

According to the NHTSA, there are certain groups of people who are at greater risk of causing a drowsy driving accident. These include the following:

  •          Intoxicated drivers
  •          Motorists who are taking prescription or recreational drugs
  •          People suffering from sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy, insomnia and sleep apnea
  •          People who work overnight or work other irregular hours

Researchers are developing and testing new technology that could help warn drivers if they are falling asleep and alert them to wake up. This technology was tested on truckers who were asked to drive tractor trailers equipped with the warning system. The system detected when truckers’ eyes closed beyond a certain point using near-infrared technology, and then sounded an alarm to rouse them. The study showed that the driving system had a positive impact on the safety of truck drivers, and that truckers who used the technology were able to drive more coherently. 

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