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North Carolina woman blames tired driving for fatal accidents

A North Carolina woman is hoping to bring attention to a dangerous hazard facing the state's drivers. The woman's husband was killed in a commercial truck accident, in which he was struck by a semi-truck whose driver had fallen asleep at the wheel.

The woman told a crowd of listeners that her husband was driving outside of the state when a trucker in an oncoming 18-wheeler fell asleep, crossed the median and collided head on with the victim's vehicle. Her husband, himself a truck driver, was killed by the impact.

The owner of the trucking company that employed the victim has called for more government intervention to put a stop to the dangerous combination of driving and sleep deprivation. "It's something I think the DMV or the DOT has to be involved in and address it for everybody," explained the man. He continued, "My goal is to get some laws changed, so this doesn't happen again." The man was critical of truckers who choose to get on the road while fatigued. "They're putting everybody's life, even their own, at risk when they are out there driving," he explained.

According to one statistic, 28 percent of commercial truckers on the road at any given time are likely to be fatigued, while one in three drivers will operate their vehicles despite being dangerously tired. Another figure estimates that approximately 5,200 Americans are killed in highway accidents each year due to driver fatigue.

In many cases, experts say driver fatigue can be linked to medical conditions such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes one's airway to close during sleep, meaning that sufferers of this disease generally wake up suddenly throughout the night. This leaves them tired during the day, which can cause them to fall asleep while driving.

Source: WCNC, "Widow speaks out after husband killed by sleeping truck driver," Feb. 26, 2012

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