WZTV FOX 17 - Top Stories
"Being tired can absolutely play a factor in spacial perceptions and just your overall alertness," says FOX17 Traffic Reporter Erin Como. "How alert you are when you're driving."
Como and Erika Kurre took to a closed driving course, set up by the Franklin Police Department, to see for themselves just how similar impairment is between driving drunk and driving drowsy.
"Oh!" says Como. "This is a little bit scary!"
With a late bed time and just 4 hours of sleep, we kept Erin awake after her appearance on TENNESSEE MORNINGS to compare her driving skills with Kurre's. For this course, Kurre wore goggles. They make the stimulus in your eye react with your brain in a way similar to drunk driving. Her artificial impairment could be compared to being legally drunk, and it showed on the course. The same path that she drove through flawlessly with no impairment became a bumpy ride, as orange cones were toppled and plowed. Putting Erin on the same course showed the same results.
"I know I'm tired right now but I thought 'Oh no problem, I'll zip through it'," says Como. "Once I got to the curve at the top where it was a little bit tighter, I've realized I was going to hit a cone but there was nothing I could do."
Erin describes her experience as being less attentive, difficult to focus on the course and having a slower reaction when presented an obstacle - similar to how the goggles made Kurre feel.
"The driver that has the goggles on that simulate some kind of impairment did poorly, but so did the person that's tired," says Franklin Police Department Lieutenant Charles Warner. "So certainly you can make a parallel that being tired takes some of your focus and attention needed to successfully navigate this course. What could happen on the road?"
According to a report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the number of traffic crashes on roads statewide that list at least one of the drivers' condition as "apparently fatigued" or "apparently asleep" was nearly 2500 in 2012 alone. The counties with the highest reports are Rutherford with 113, Knox County with 118, Hamilton County reporting 144, Davidson County with 177 and Shelby County showing 329 crashes!
"I would have never expected those numbers to actually be that high," says Lt. Warner.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states those most likely to drive drowsy are commercial drivers, shift workers on night or long shifts, and those with untreated sleep disorders and drivers on sedating medications. Reporting traffic accidents for a living, Erin says this is no surprise to her.
"That just makes you realize that when you're driving an actual vehicle on the interstate, how much more extreme that situation is because you're putting other lives at risk as well as your own, and I think that course is a perfect example of that," says Erin.
According to the CDC, you may be driving drowsy if you find yourself yawning or blinking frequently, hitting the rumble strip on the interstate, having difficulty remembering the past few miles or are drifting from your lane. Lt. Warner says a general rule of thumb, if you have to ask if you're impaired to drive, the answer is probably yes.
Thursday, February 21 2013, 06:20 AM CST
Prince Edward presents Edinburgh's awards in Tenn.
May 23, 2013 22:00 GMT
By ERIK SCHELZIG Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, is visiting Tennessee to promote one of the British royal family's charities, the Duke of Edinburgh's awards.
The prince presided over an awards ceremony at the governor's mansion in Nashville on Thursday for the first batch of young Tennesseans to participate in the leadership and character program.
About 80 youths received the award by participating in community service, skills development, physical fitness and adventurous journeys through the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, LEAD Academy, Montgomery Bell Academy or the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Organization.
Following the event, Gov. Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam invited the awardees and their families to tea inside the governor's residence. Later on Thursday, the prince was scheduled to headline a black-tie gala at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville.
Bernanke signals Fed to maintain stimulus efforts
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chairman Ben Bernanke is telling Congress that the U.S. job market remains weak and that it is too soon for the Federal Reserve to end its extraordinary stimulus programs.
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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- David Cooper wants to bring a little more sin -- to Sin City.