Automakers trying to prevent drowsy driving

After long drives or little sleep it’s difficult not to get drowsy behind the wheel. April 6 is Drowsy Driving Awareness Day, and in Kentucky there were 2,222 accidents and 27 deaths last year because of people falling asleep behind the wheel.

Getting to your destination is important, but when hours add up so can exhaustion. A feeling truck driver Stephen Clemons isn’t a stranger to

“I start getting heavy-eyes, start glaring down the road and spacing and, you know,” Clemons said.

He said it doesn’t matter how long he drives, but how much he sleeps.

“You can drive 11 hours straight and be just fine or you can drive three hours,” Clemons said.

Studies show 1 in 10 drivers fell asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Spokesmen Keith Todd said it’s about using common sense about when to pull over.

“You’re not only taking a chance with your own life. You’re taking a chance with the lives of others,” Todd said.

Todd said in the past some truck drivers when they were feeling drowsy would hold a rock in their hand so if they fell asleep it would hit their leg and hopefully wake them up.

Now car companies are coming up with ways to detect drowsy driving. Nissan created a driver attention alert system in their 2016 Maxima. It analyzes your steering behavior to make a noise when it detects drowsiness. Volvo and Mercedes have similar options.

“There may be some benefits for those but there are always going to be a few people that will try to push the system,” Todd said.

With the technology or not, when you’re on the road, Clemons said, pulling over outweighs any risk.

“It’s extremely important. I mean, especially driving a semi. You’ve got 80,000 pounds rolling down the road, you get tired. And it’s a whole lot harder to stop these trucks,” Clemons said.

If you’re feeling drowsy and you have to keep driving, scientists have said one thing you can do is pull over have a cup of coffee and take a nap, because it takes at least 30 minutes for caffeine to get into your blood stream. Also, despite what we might all think, studies show stopping to stretch, rolling down your windows, or blasting music provides little to no effect in keeping you awake.

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