For motorists in Michigan, drunk driving can be a real threat. In 2017 alone, 10,874 people across the country were killed by drunk driving accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Law enforcement and public awareness campaigns have stepped up to highlight the dangers of driving while intoxicated, but people continue to lose their lives on the roadways. Some are looking for a technological solution to the problem. That's why Volvo announced that it would install an anti-drunk driving system in its cars beginning in the early 2020s. The technology would also target distracted driving.
Michigan drivers should know that the development of autonomous vehicles has been a bumpy one, even resulting in fatalities. In May 2016, the driver of a Tesla vehicle on Autopilot collided with a truck and died. In March 2018, a pedestrian in Arizona was fatally struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle, forcing Uber to shut down self-driving operations in that state. However, it has since restarted its testing program on public roads in the city of Pittsburgh.
The Travelers Companies, an insurance provider, has issued its 2019 Travelers Risk Index. What it has to say about distracted driving, based on a survey of more than 2,000 consumers and executives, should be of interest to drivers in Michigan. First, the most frequently cited forms of distraction were sending texts and emails at 44 percent, using social media at 23 percent and taking photographs or recording videos at 22 percent.
Michigan residents may have heard about a device called the "textalyzer," which is meant to determine whether someone was using their phone prior to a crash. Back in 2017, the New York legislature proposed a measure allowing its use among police officers, but the measure failed. Now, the Nevada legislature has proposed a similar measure.
Most Michigan residents know that experts recommend a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. However, with daylight saving time, many will lose an hour of sleep and become drowsy in the daytime. Combine that with driving, and the chances of an accident spike. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, missing one to two hours of sleep in a 24-hour period actually doubles the risk for a crash.
Many Michigan residents are concerned about the public health impacts of the opioid crisis. According to one study, prescription opiate usage could also be linked to fatal car accidents. Researchers examined fatal two-car crashes across the United States and found that the at-fault drivers were almost twice as likely to have prescription opiates in their systems.
The most frequently reported factors in auto accidents in Michigan are also common elsewhere in the nation. The following is just a brief summary of those factors. First of all, most accidents are caused by human error with distracted driving being especially prominent. Calling, texting, adjusting the radio, eating, talking with passengers -- all of these can take one's attention from the road.
Michigan motorists who are concerned about road safety should know that excessive vehicle speed is a contributing factor in almost 33 percent of all fatalities caused by motor vehicle crashes. This is according to a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association. However, speeding receives inadequate attention as an issue of traffic safety and is even considered to be socially acceptable by many drivers.
Widespread public health campaigns in Michigan have highlighted the dangers of distracted driving. Many of these efforts have focused on the use of handheld phones, including calling and texting while driving. Similarly to overall trends in communication, fewer drivers are talking on handheld phones while behind the wheel. However, drivers are 57 percent more likely to use their phones for texting, internet browsing or email, even when operating their vehicles.
Drowsy driving is a danger that drivers in Michigan should do all they can to avert. Sleep deprivation can affect drivers like alcohol intoxication: The National Sleep Foundation says that staying awake for 24 hours is like having a blood alcohol content of .10 whereas one is legally drunk with a .08 BAC.