Driving Impaired Does Not Always Involve Alcohol
Drowsy driving is such a dangerous problem in our state that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has designated September 1-9, 2019, as Florida’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. FDOT does not mince words when discussing the problem:
“Nearly 30 percent of American drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, according to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, and more than half said they have driven while drowsy.
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.
Florida’s Drowsy Driving Prevention Week honors Ronshay Dugans, an eight-year old Tallahassee girl who died when a drowsy driver plowed in the van she was riding in. When you snooze behind the wheel, everyone around you loses. By sharing her story, everyone can learn more about the potential dangers of drowsy driving.”
FDOT urges drivers to ask questions before getting behind the wheel: “Was it an early morning for you? Did you have too much on your mind last night and couldn’t fall asleep? Are you yawning now? Groggy? Nodding off? You’re probably driving drowsy and you’re at greater risk for getting into a crash.”
It 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.
Ronshay Dugans was a precious, innocent girl whose life was stolen because someone drove while drowsy. Let’s avoid the next tragedy by only driving a motor vehicle – a dangerous instrumentality under Florida law – when fully alert and sober. And remember, a sober driver who is drowsy is an impaired driver.
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.