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Fatigued driving made safer with technology

Many California residents probably remember the 2014 New Jersey motor vehicle accident involving comedian Tracy Morgan. He was a passenger in a limousine that was struck by a Walmart truck driver who had not slept for 28 hours prior to the wreck. The limousine was rear-ended, putting Morgan in a two-week coma and killing another passenger. The wreck would not have happened had the truck driver slowed from 65 mph to 45 mph. It brought extensive publicity to the dangers of driving while sleep-deprived.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 25 percent of fatal motor vehicle accidents involve a drowsy driver. People with six hours of sleep or less or who doze off during the day are more likely to fall asleep while driving. Studies show that a person awake for 24 hours is as impaired as a person with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent.

Technological advances in early warning systems are being implemented to prevent a car crash, such as those with lasers or cameras that perceive objects ahead and beep, flash, or even brake for the driver. Recent systems detect when the driver is going to cross a lane line, and a warning tone goes off. Another gauges if the driver is steering less, a sign of drowsiness, and a beep or flash goes off. Some phone apps can gauge drowsiness by blinking rate and body movement.

Those who are injured in an accident caused by a fatigued driver may face extensive medical bills and are unable to earn a living while they are recovering. Injured victims may want to meet with a personal injury attorney to determine how best to seek compensation for the losses that have been sustained.

Source: Fox 40, "Driving While Fatigued Can be Less Deadly Thanks to Technology", CNN Wire, Aug. 17, 2015

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