Ronshay Dugans was a precious, innocent 8-year-old girl whose life was stolen when her school bus was hit by a cement-truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel.
The Florida Legislature honors her memory the first week of September each year with Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. It’s a time to educate Floridians on the dangers of drowsy driving.
Maybe it’s happened to you. You end up at your destination and don’t even remember much of the drive. You jerk awake when you hear the rumble strips and realize the vehicle was drifting toward the shoulder. Drowsy driving is impaired driving.
The National Safety Council reports that each year, drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, it’s estimated that 6% to 11% of all police-reported motor-vehicle crashes and 16% to 21% of fatal crashes likely involve drowsy driving.
The two main causes of drowsy driving are lack of quality/quantity of sleep and driving at times of the day when you would normally be sleeping, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles. Young drivers, shift workers, commercial drivers and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation are at an increased risk for drowsy driving crashes.
FLHSMV recommends common sense tips to help avoid a tragedy:
- Do not consume alcohol and avoid medications that cause drowsiness.
- Get a good night’s sleep before driving. Good overall sleep habits will go a long way to prevent drowsy driving.
- Take a companion on long trips. Not only will you have someone to share the driving and help keep you awake, but you’ll be able to save energy by carpooling too.
- Schedule regular breaks, about every 100 miles or every couple of hours.
- Check out Florida’s network of rest areas, service plazas, truck comfort stations and welcome centers.
Obviously, never begin a trip if you are drowsy.
Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith has vast experience in handling all types of motor vehicle accidents, including those caused by impaired drivers.
This blog was written by Partner Mickey Smith.