Wake Up to the Danger of
A couple of weeks ago, while stopped at a red light on the main
thoroughfare in Santa Barbara, I received a not so gentle jolt
as a car ploughed into me from behind. The accident occurred in
broad daylight--just after twelve noon, when the driver of the
offending vehicle fell asleep at the wheel. In synchronistic fashion,
just after my accident, I received an e-mail from the National
Sleep Foundation announcing that November 5-11, is Drowsy Driving
I considered myself not so gently nudged to get in gear and write
to you about the dangers of driving while drowsy. Luckily, my
car accident was relatively minor. No one was injured and the
only damage was to our cars. But countless families have not been
as fortunate and have faced catastrophic consequences from driving
while drowsy or being hit by someone who momentarily dosed off
at the wheel. My brother’s wife knows this all too well.
Years ago her sister, mother, and her sister’s five year-old
son, Philip, took a vacation together. When Grandma fell asleep
at the wheel, she and her adult daughter were both killed. Young
Philip survived, but he has had a hard time making his way in
the world without his beloved mother and grandmother.
It always surprises me that there has not been a larger campaign
waged to let people know about the dangers of driving while drowsy.
While most people are aware of the very real dangers of driving
under the influence of drugs or alcohol, many are unaware of the
consequences of drowsy driving. Like driving under the influence,
sleepy drivers have impaired coordination and reaction time. And
here’s a special warning to parents of teenage drivers.
As a group, they are among the most sleep deprived segment of
the population. If you have teenagers who drive, be sure to educate
them on the dangers of driving while intoxicated AND on the dangers
of driving while drowsy.
Here are a couple of statistics that are sure to wake us up to
the dangers of driving while drowsy. According to the U.S. National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatigue and drowsiness
are the principal causes for approximately 100,000 reported crashes
a year. And in the 2005 Sleep in America poll, 37% of respondents
reported that they had fallen asleep while driving during the
As we move into the holiday season, many of you will drive long
distances to spend time with your friends and families. Please
pull over if you’re the least bit sleepy. Don’t talk
yourself into driving just a few more miles. It’s not worth
Have a safe and joyous Thanksgiving!