Driving drowsy contributes to highway fatalities

MARION, SC (WMBF) - A man is recovering in the hospital hours after his wife was pronounced dead in a car accident.

A senior trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol says that crash occurred around 5:15 a.m. Sunday morning on Highway 501 in Marion County near Bluff Road. The young couple, from Winston Salem, NC were traveling toward the beach when their 1994 Chevy pickup left the roadway.

The male driver overcorrected, causing the car to overturn and eject his passenger.

Marion County Coroner Jerry Richardson says the driver was admitted to Carolina Hospital System in Marion, but his 36-year-old wife Bambi Whicker was pronounced dead from injuries sustained in the crash.

According to Richardson, the man may have fallen asleep at the wheel. The SC Highway Patrol is still investigating.

According to statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falling asleep at the wheel accounts for one out of every six traffic fatalities, and travel experts say it's difficult to spot warning signs because fatigue can creep up on a driver.

"It goes unnoticed," said Tracie Lawrence with AAA of the Carolinas. "People who are normally safe drivers don't think about it."

Lawrence says a big contributor to fatigued and drowsy driving comes from the idea that coffee or a sugary drink can provide an instant perk up.

"Caffeine takes 30 minutes to get into your system," she said. "If you're on a long trip, the thing to do would be to stop."

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