Don’t Add to Statistics of Drowsy Driving: Use Next Exit
Recently we took our children on a 10 day vacation to visit New York and Pennsylvania. During our trip, we stayed in a condo in central Pennsylvania near the Poconos Mountains. From this central location, we were within a 1.5-2 hour one-way drive of many great locations – including Philadelphia, New York City, and Harrisburg. Our plan was to make day trips to these surrounding locations.
After waking up early, driving to our preferred location and seeing the many sites, I was often tired from the day’s activities. Even though I was exhausted, I felt comfortable driving because I knew I could trade driving responsibilities with my wife if I ever experienced drowsiness or driver fatigue. There as one exception on this trip.
On this day, we visited Hershey Park. We knew at the end of the day at the amusement park we would all be exhausted. We thought about making the drive back, however, we knew there were dangers of driving drowsy. I think we were especially cautious, as we have heard drowsy driving stories, including one from a friend who fell asleep coming home from work late one night – simply a 30 minute drive. He veered off of the side of the road, rolling his car. Luckily, the road was deserted, he was wearing his seat-belt and he was able to walk away with minor injuries. This automobile accident hit him hard; knowing that he could have not only lost his life, leaving his family fatherless, but could have taken the life of another individual.
The results of this had an impact on me. Why should I put my family at risk, or anyone else, and become another one of the drowsy driving statistics. Rather than returning to our condo, we spent the night in a hotel near Hershey Yes, this was an added expense, however, the cost was much less expensive than the any costs related to a drowsy driving accident.
Now, you may not always be in close proximity of a hotel or want to incur the expense. Be aware that these situations are being addressed. Many states, including Utah, are supporting causes to reduce sleep deprived driving through educational messages, rumble strips and posting signs throughout the state. Utah is encouraging “Drowsy Drivers Use Next Exit”.
As posted, Rest Areas are a place to simply take a break in case of fatigued driving. Through the udot.utah.gov web-site there is Rest Area Information and a map to Utah’s Rest Areas.
I am sure most of us have experienced drowsiness while driving and have attempted find ways to stay awake. We need to pay attention to these signs of drowsiness. The NHTSA - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides drowsy driving statistics, data related to drowsy driving and automobile crashes, drowsy driving facts, and many other drowsy driving tips. We need to become well educated on highway safety and increase our awareness on drowsy driving. Through these measures, hopefully we can consider our options when drowsy and any eliminate potential fatalities associated with drowsy driving.