My name is Renu Aggarwal, and I'm a Product Development Chemist for ContiTech, based in Winchester, Virginia. As someone who works in the automotive industry, I am curious about the continuous advancements in automotive technology and their impact on safety. It is this unique perspective that motivates me to share my personal story. I believe that by sharing our experiences, we can create awareness and foster a better understanding of the benefits that automotive technology brings to our lives.
My long-time friend and I were driving to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for a much-needed weekend of fun. After a long day in the car, it started to get dark outside and I could tell that something was different in the way my friend was driving. We started to weave, ever so slightly, in our lane. The lane departure warning would alert us every few minutes and I carefully offered to drive. My friend did not want to switch drivers.
She suffers from sleep apnea, which inhibits her from sleeping soundly through the night. This condition puts her more at risk for falling asleep in other situations, like at work or behind the wheel. It is hard to tell somebody to pull over and even more difficult because she did not realize that her medical condition was impairing her driving.
When the alert started going off more frequently, she finally decided it was time to pull over and switch. A few hours later, we arrived #SafelyThere. It was an amazing trip, eating local food and visiting the Speedwell Wolves sanctuary.
I think most of us believe that our driving is safe, even when we are overtired or distracted. It is a difficult choice to pull over and take a nap, switch drivers, or respond to a text when the vehicle is no longer in motion. According to NHTSA, every year there are 100,000 crashes due to drowsy driving. I am grateful for the technologies that can alert drivers to risky behavior, but I will also do my part to choose not to get behind the wheel when I’m feeling anything less than attentive.
I am thankful for the safety features in cars, but we must always drive safely.