It is not a good idea to drive on Kentucky roadways when sleep-deprived. Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. According to a Consumer Reports study, prescription sleep aids could be contributing to the problem. Of 1,767 people surveyed, roughly 20 percent said that they drove within seven hours of taking them.
Excessive alcohol consumption can impair a driver's reaction time, depth perception and peripheral vision, all of which increase the risk for an auto accident. Many drunk driving crashes in Kentucky are fatal. In fact, about one-third of all traffic-related fatalities in the country are DUI crash deaths. Drivers under 24 and motorcyclists are among those most susceptible to drunk driving crashes.
Residents of Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S. should be aware that traffic accidents are now globally the eighth leading cause of death. However, only 29 percent of global traffic-related deaths involve car occupants. The majority of deaths involve pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
New safety data from the ZF Group may encourage other car parts manufacturers to consider working on external airbag technology. ZF finds that external airbags could, in the case of a side collision, reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent. Drivers in Kentucky should know, however, that it will be a while before these are introduced to public; the technology is far from perfect.
Drowsy driving is almost always the result of a lack of sleep. While seven to nine hours of sleeping time is recommended, a U.S. Department of Transportation survey shows that one in three adult drivers in the nation sleeps fewer than seven hours. Drivers in Kentucky should know that drowsiness is to blame for an estimated 7 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. This amounts to about 330,000 crashes a year.
Many people in Kentucky are interested in the potential of autonomous driving technology to cut down on the number of car accidents. One example of semi-autonomous technology currently installed in cars is Tesla's Autopilot system. The automaker issued a voluntary Vehicle Safety Report saying that drivers who use Autopilot are less likely to be involved in a crash than Tesla drivers who turn off Autopilot and far less likely to have an accident than the general driving population.
As part of National Teen Driver Safety Week, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released some research data. It should be of interest to both teen drivers and their parents in Kentucky. The most startling fact is that when teen drivers have only other teens as passengers, the fatality rate for all of them increases 51 percent. Other vehicle occupants are 56 percent more likely to die in a crash while bicyclists and pedestrians are 17 percent more likely.
A study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that drivers in Kentucky and across the U.S. overestimate the abilities of some vehicle safety technologies. Specifically, drivers seem to believe automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and blind spot monitoring systems are actually more powerful. The results of the study raise concerns about how Americans will adapt to advancing safety systems and self-driving vehicles.
Motor vehicle accidents are among the leading causes of death for teenagers throughout Kentucky and the rest of the United States. Unfortunately, public information campaigns aimed at reducing the number of young drivers killed on the roads each year have proved largely ineffective. However, risk reduction programs for teen drivers that include visits to hospital emergency rooms and morgues could succeed where advertising has mostly failed, according to researchers from Baylor University.
Kentucky residents who plan to visit friends or relatives during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday may be wise to fasten their safety belts and take extra precautions. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, July Fourth is the deadliest day to drive in the United States. Figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that drunk driving accidents over the Independence Day holiday period accounted for 40 percent of all highway fatalities between 2007 and 2011.