Drowsy driving involved in 21 percent of fatal car accidents [w/video]

AAA estimates drowsy driving is responsible for 6,400 deaths a year.

In the wake of a fatal accident that nearly claimed the life of comedian Tracy Morgan earlier this year, tired truckers received considerably scrutiny from Congress and safety advocates. On Monday, the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety released a new study that serves as a reminder that it’s not just tired truckers who pose a threat on US roads. It’s the rest of us, too.

Drowsy driving is involved in more than 21 percent of all fatal accidents, according to the organization’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, which says that, to this point, the number of traffic deaths pinned on tired drivers has been significantly underreported.

Previous research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published three years ago found that fatigued driving was involved in roughly 2.5 percent of all fatal crashes. AAA says the wide discrepancy can be blamed on the fact some motorists involved in accidents are unaware their driving performance has been impaired by fatigue and, if they are aware, they may not be willing to admit that to accident investigators.

AAA estimates drowsy driving is responsible for 6,400 deaths a year.

According to AAA findings, some 37 percent of motorists admit to having fallen asleep while driving at some point in their lives, with 11 percent admitting that they’ve done so in the last year. Interestingly, the foundation’s data suggests that men are twice as likely to have an accident due to drowsy driving than women. “Like other impairments, driving while drowsy is not without risk,” said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. “… Unfortunately, drivers often underestimate this risk and overestimate their ability to combat drowsiness behind the wheel.”

Some automakers have been investing in technology that measures driver drowsiness and warns them when their attention is starting to wander from the road. Check out the video below to see how Mercedes-Benz is addressing the problem.

Techsplanations: Lane Departure Warning

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