October 25, 2014

Silent killer — drowsy driving

It’s a silent killer, which needs to be taken more seriously.

Approximately 17% of all fatal crashes are estimated to involve a drowsy driver, so says Pam Moen of AAA Wisconsin. Everyone, it seems, is aware of the dangers from drinking and driving; and more recently, distracted driving by texting and cell phone use.

But, Moen says there’s another significant and deadly danger. “One of the really, kind of, under talked about dangers that we face on the road is driving while we’re too tired.”

Two out of every five drivers admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. Moen says being too tired to drive can resemble the same symptoms as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. “Being too tired decreases your awareness of your surroundings, it slows your reaction time, and impairs your judgment, really, just like drugs or alcohol can.”

Too many folks tend to underestimate the negative effects associated with fatigue and sleep deprivation and, conversely, overestimate their abilities to overcome those symptoms while driving. In recognition of this week’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, AAA wants all drivers to recognize the seriousness of this underestimated safety issue.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:24