Law enforcement, researchers look to halt drowsy driving in Iowa

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)- Law enforcement officials in Iowa want to put a stop to so-called "drowsy driving."

Traffic travels along Interstate 380 just north of Swisher during the evening rush hour on Tuesday, July 2, 2013, in (Liz Martin/The Gazette-KCRG)

Data from 2013 showed that nationwide drowsy driving played a role in 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths.

On Wednesday officials, including Governor Terry Branstad and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administer Dr. Mark Rosekind, were in Iowa City for a summit on drowsy driving.

Governor Branstad said he believes Iowa can be a leader in research to make vehicles safer and to prevent drowsy driving, an issue officials say is as concerning as drunk and distracted driving.

University of Iowa researchers also shared insight into work being done in Iowa City to help stop drowsy driving. New technologies are emerging that notify drivers if they are drifting in their lanes, as well as corrective and automatic braking technologies. UI officials said the technology will both help prevent and reduce the impact of drowsy driving in Iowa and across the nation.

Iowa Department of Public Safety officials are calling the summit a first-in-the-nation event.

Rosekind said he is very impressed with the work being done in Iowa.