The horrible accident this past weekend that claimed the life of one comedian, Jimmy McNair, and left Tracy Morgan in critical condition has been linked to drowsy driving. Experts say the tragic crash reveals how dangerous exhausted driving can be, both for the drivers themselves and for others on the road.
The accident happened this past weekend in New Jersey when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the limo carrying Morgan and McNair. Police investigating the crash discovered that the driver of the tractor-trailer, Kevin Roper, was exhausted at the time of the accident, something that they think led directly to the crash.
Authorities say that prior to the accident, Roper had not slept in more than 24 hours. Though this kind of exhausted driving may seem shocking, the scary reality is that among those in the commercial trucking world, exhaustion is a part of daily life. Increasingly tight schedules and demands to deliver cargo as soon as possible means that commercial truck drivers are under immense pressure to drive until they drop.
Though federal rules exist regarding the number of hours truckers are supposed to drive without resting, it can be all too easy for drivers in a rush to ignore the rules and hope for the best. Sadly, drowsy driving is as dangerous as other forms of impaired driving, including drunk driving, and cannot just be ignored.
Statistics from a French survey conducted in 2012 found that drowsy driving was nearly as deadly as drinking and driving. The study showed that both drunk and tired drivers were twice as likely to be the cause of a car accident when compared to sober and well-rested drivers.
The problem with drowsy driving is that exhaustion can impair your ability to concentrate on the road in front of you. Decision-making becomes more difficult, your judgment is more easily clouded, your tendency for risk taking increases and your reaction time slows down dramatically. These symptoms mirror those experienced by drunk drivers, demonstrating why both can be so dangerous.
Drowsy driving is responsible for an estimated 100,000 police-reported car accidents each and every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these accidents lead to 71,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths. Despite the incredible harm caused by sleepy driving, lawmakers appear nowhere near as interested in cracking down on exhausted drivers, instead devoting all their efforts at one subset of impaired motorists.
Source: “The Grim Stats Associated With Drowsy Driving,” by Sam Stein, published at HuffingtonPost.com.