Dangers of Drowsy Driving

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

It is a busy time of year…

“Kids are trying to finish up with school, they're excited to go home,” said Department of Public Safety Trooper Jimmy Morgan.

Trooper Jimmy Morgan says that excitement comes with consequences, especially when drowsy drivers get behind the wheel.

“When you fall asleep behind the wheel and you are traveling 70 miles an hour, that's 102 feet per second,” Morgan said. “So it doesn't take long for you to end up on the other side of the roadway.”

In 2010, 7,600 accidents were caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel; 156 of those accidents were fatal.

“You hear about the texting and driving and using cell phones all the time, but when I heard that 7,600 accidents were caused because of fatigue, absolutely, that number alarmed me,” Morgan added.

A head-on collision in Madisonville Wednesday let two people dead and a Texas A&M student seriously injured. While the investigation is still underway, Madisonville police believe the student fell asleep at the wheel.

“The gas tank on the 18-wheeler got ruptured and it caught the truck driver and his passenger on fire and they were unable to escape,” Morgan said.

“Drowsy driving is very serious,” explained Dr. Raj Harrykissoon of the College Station Medical Center’s Sleep Clinic.

Harrykissoon says people often underestimate the power of a good night's sleep.

“It only takes four seconds to have a lapse of vigilance for you to have an accident,” said Harrykissoon.

Harrykissoon says many drivers turn to caffeine or energy drinks and many other remedies to stay alert.

“I've had young adults who have described activities like slapping themselves, turning the AC on, rolling down the window,” he added.

Those methods are temporary -- but the potential consequences of driving drowsy -- could last a lifetime.

"Certainly you can use a stimulant like a caffeine beverage for a brief period of time, but it shouldn't be a substitute for getting the rest you really need."

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