On my birthday in 1989 I got the terrible news that my friend Tina Middleton was killed in a car accident. Tina was a single mother, a full-time student, and she was working a full-time job. When the accident happened Tina was on her way home from work. She fell asleep at the wheel of her car and drove into a tree. The impact killed her instantly.
It’s been many years since I’ve thought of Tina, but this morning I read that this week is “Drowsy Driving Awareness Week” in Washington State. With holiday traffic already increasing, this is a timely reminder to avoid driving when you are overtired.
Recent statistics indicate that drowsy drivers cause over 1,500 deaths and 71,000 injuries each year in the United States. In Washington State in 2015 there were 2,183 collisions and 9 fatalities where sleep and fatigue were the suspected causing factor.
Here are some important points to remember about drowsy driving:
- More than one third of all drivers report falling asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives
- For maximum alertness, get enough sleep before your trip. Take breaks on long drives, and avoid driving between 2 am and 6 am.
- Take a passenger whenever possible to keep you talking, watch for signs of drowsiness, and share the driving
- Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles to take a quick nap or get some exercise.
These simple tips could save your life or the life of someone sharing the road.