BALTIMORE (WJZ) — AAA MidAtlantic says drowsy driving is to blame for one in five fatal crashes in the U.S.
The findings now has one government agency calling for a crackdown to put to end to this dangerous trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now fighting to create more awareness to get sleepy drivers off the road.
Kerrie Warne lost her son in a crash six years ago. Police say he fell asleep at the wheel.
“I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and sort of collapsing because that couldn’t be true,” she says.
New findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are uncovering it’s happening more and more.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving contributes to more than a million accidents every year in the U.S., and up to 8,000 deaths.
AAA tells WJZ it’s difficult to get exact numbers because crash investigators can’t always tell the cause right away.
What is known, is how many admit to actually doing it.
“They recognize that it’s dangerous to drive while drowsy, but yet one-in-four still admitted driving so tired that could barely keep their eyes open,” says Ragina Averella, with AAA Mid-Atlantic.
WJZ spoke with several drivers who say it’s no different for them.
“Yes, absolutely, probably every morning on my way to work,” says one woman.
“Sometimes it can be pretty scary actually, you feel like it’s lights out,” says a man.
It’s why NHTSA is now calling for more warning signs alerting people of the dangers of driving drowsy. It’s also calling on states to pass laws to punish repeat offenders.
The Uiversity of Maryland is also helping in the effort by keeping track of when and how difficult it’ll be to pass these laws. NHTSA says so far, only Arkansas and New Jersey have specific laws on the book that punish repeat offenders.
Some car makers are also helping by installing systems that can detect if you’re tired behind the wheel.