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Dangers of fatigue and driving addressed through technology

The 2014 New Jersey accident involving a retail semi truck and comedian Tracy Morgan has brought the issue of fatigue on the roads to the forefront, especially where large commercial vehicles are involved. While truck drivers are regulated in terms of driving hours and rest hours, it is difficult to force such a person to sleep during their non-driving hours. In this case, the truck driver may have dozed as he entered a construction zone and failed to slow down. He had not slept for more than a full day prior to the wreck.

Fatigue and drunk driving are noted for the potential severity of related motor vehicle accidents. Reactions may be exaggerated, leading to rollovers and other major damage. It is estimated that at least 7,500 fatal fatigue-related accidents occur throughout the nation each year, but technology may contribute to a reduction in these numbers.

One type of system that is being explored is forward collision warning equipment. An alert may draw a tired driver's attention back to the road in time to avoid a serious accident. Another area of development involves Bluetooth headsets that track head movements indicative of a person's awareness level. An alert can be used when a driver seems to be nodding off, allowing time to respond. Coupled with trucking oversight, these solutions may avert major accidents involving large vehicles. In personal vehicles, these technologies could minimize the potential for deadly wrecks while also possibly offering financial benefits on insurance policies.

Because a motor vehicle has the potential to be a deadly weapon, a driver must take responsibility for their condition when getting behind the wheel. Driving while fatigued could leave an individual open to legal action in case of a serious accident. Additionally, insurance rates can rise for a driver who is involved in a wreck while distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated.

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