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Holiday Drivers, Don’t Drive Sleepy

Bored, tired man sleeping at the wheel of his car

Last month, a Georgia family suffered an unthinkable loss. A father and four children (two of whom were his sons) were all killed in an auto crash while visiting Florida. At first it was thought that the mother of two of the children was driving at the time. But authorities have listed the driver as unknown and apparently are still determining who was driving the vehicle. It is believed that the driver fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median line on a highway. The four children in the vehicle ranged in ages from three to 14 and all were ejected in the crash. The mother of two of them survived the crash, but was critically injured. Two of her children were not in the car. Although no one in the car was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, the impact was so great when the pick up truck hit their car, authorities said in this particular crash, seat belts would not have saved the children. The mom underwent multiple surgeries and we do not know whether she is out of the hospital at this time. Of the four riding in the pick up truck, only one was seriously injured.

Those who knew the kids say that they were lovely children who attended church and school in Barrow County for a couple of years. The first reports about this crash indicated that the mom had been driving and must have fallen asleep at the wheel. It appears now that she was not driving and that whomever was driving might have fallen asleep at the wheel or crossed over the line for some other reason which is not known at this time. Drowsy driving can cause serious injury, brain damage (see Official Code of Georgia Annotated section § 40-6-394) or death and is far more dangerous than most of us realize. Most importantly, drowsy driving can be prevented.

Given that the holidays are upon us and we can get fatigued during the holiday rush, it is good to remember to avoid driving until we are rested. Driving while fatigued is extremely dangerous, just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Earlier this month, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) held its annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. This campaign is intended to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while tired or sleepy. Drowsy driving causes many injuries and deaths on our roads and highways each year. Lack of sleep makes it difficult to focus and drivers can be falling asleep at the wheel with no warning at all.

The NSF’s #Awake2Drive campaign suggests several important ways to avoid driving while sleepy. First, it is best to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Have a caffeine drink if you are feeling tired or are beginning to have difficulty focusing. If you feel tired while driving, stop and take a nap. Take regular breaks while on a long drive. Many highway accidents that are caused by sleepy drivers are on high speed, long or rural highways so be aware that these conditions can make drivers more vulnerable if they are not rested while driving. Emerging technologies that can alert drivers that are showing signs of falling asleep might well be a part of our vehicles’ safety mechanisms in the near future. Until that happens, take the tips of the NSF and avoid accident and injury.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Georgia accident, Scholle Law is here to help. We represent victims of accident or injuries caused by others. Please contact us for a complimentary evaluation of your potential injury case.

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