About a week ago a young, promising teenage boy was killed on my road. He was coming back from night fishing when his car veered off and hit a tree. He was killed instantly. There were no witnesses but everyone feels he may have fallen asleep behind the wheel. He was only 17 years old.
Driver fatigue is a dangerous game to play. You always think you can make it. Just 25 more miles, I am almost there. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes you don’t make it.
Wake up. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of Americans have sleep-related problems at some time in their life and 23 percent have actually fallen asleep while driving. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that drowsiness and/or fatigue is a contributing factor in approximately 100,000 motor vehicle crashes annually and is a factor in nearly four percent of all fatal crashes.
Be kind to yourself and your loved ones — keep these tips from NHTSA in mind:
- Set reasonable daily itineraries
- Rotate driving shifts if more than one driver is available
- Take regular breaks while driving (every two hours)
- Restrict night driving
- Plan for a good night’s sleep
- Get some kind of physical exercise during the day
- Maintain a healthy diet, without excessive fats or carbs. Also, avoid sugary foods; the initial rush is fine, but the “letdown” can make you feel worse than befor