MORRILTON (KTHV) - We hear it a lot these days: the dangers of texting while driving, even talking while driving. We've made it a campaign here at Today's THV as part of the Great Hang Up.
But after losing her mother to a fatal car wreck, a Morrilton woman hopes to raise awareness about another danger.
We're talking about drowsy driving, basically getting behind the wheel when we haven't slept in hours. And the latest research from Triple A's Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that one in six fatal crashes involve a sleepy driver.
Denise Kordsmeier of Morrilton wants to not only make people more aware of the dangers but also get some serious laws regarding drowsy driving on the books in Arkansas. And she's working with her state senator to make it happen.
"When things happen, so many times I want to pick up the phone and call her and then I realize she's not there," Denise Kordsmeier said.
She is Erma Noland, Denise Kordsmeier's mother. Noland was killed in a car wreck just before Christmas last year.
"She was on her way to get some Christmas presents for some of the great grandkids and a driver hit her head on," Kordsmeier said.
Morrilton Police reports confirm the driver fell asleep at the wheel. But Kordsmeier says that there were no stiff penalties to pursue with no drowsy driving law on the books.
"It's the same to me as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and you're held responsible for that, you should be held responsible for this," Kordsmeier said.
Kordsmeier's now working with State Senator Jason Rapert of Conway on a proposed law.
"You know under the law if you take someone's life and you are at fault, you caused that situation to occur there needs to be some accountability," Senator Rapert said.
Rapert says a draft in the works would add a "fatigued state" to Arkansas' negligent homicide law. And it could follow the country's only drowsy driving law in New Jersey(Maggie's Law), with no sleep for more than 24 hours as the benchmark.
"What we don't want to see happen again is a situation where an innocent person is killed," Senator Rapert said.
It's a sentiment that's echoed by Kordsmeier, who's also spreading education on drowsy driving.
"Different college campuses, the DMV's," Kordsmeier said.
And it's helping her reroute toward a new life without mom.
The earliest Arkansas lawmakers will consider this proposed new law for drowsy driving won't be until January of 2013. Senator Rapert says that's when the next General Session comes around. But he plans to continue working on it and have it ready for that time.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Transportation Administration reports that drowsy driving cases make up an estimated 100,000 police-reported crashes a year, 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries.
For more drowsy driving statistics and who's most vulnerable, click on this link from AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety.