Steer clear of driver fatigue
by Chip Latcham
Feb 13, 2013 | 2457 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many of us have been there, and it’s a precarious place to be.

In this week’s Progress, our sister newspaper, the lead story is the tragic account of four members of a George West family who died in a single-car accident early Sunday morning on U.S. Highway 59 in Live Oak County.

The driver, a young mother, and three children (between 1 and 3 years old) were killed when their SUV left the road and crashed head-on into a large oak tree, according to the DPS. Upon impact with the tree, the SUV caught fire.

The lone survivor, the husband, was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a broken arm, leg and possible back injuries. He doesn’t remember the accident because he was asleep.

The investigating trooper said the cause of the accident probably was fatigue.

An account has been opened at IBC Bank to help with funeral expenses for the mother, Joannie Lopez, and the children.

Although other recent stories have dealt with projects to widen and improve highways in this area, including U.S. 181 North (between Normanna and the Karnes County line) and SH 72 in Live Oak and McMullen counties, there is no denying the need for increased safety on these heavily traveled roadways.

Due to the Eagle Ford activity, statistics have shown traffic has increased more than 200 percent on some of these highways.

The risk is exacerbated when you introduce the dangers of drowsy driving. Just like drugs and alcohol, sleepiness can impair important functions behind the wheel like response time, awareness and judgment.

According to AAA, a new analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates drowsy driving is a factor in nearly one in six fatal crashes. A recently published study showed that two out of five drivers surveyed (41 percent) admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel at some time.

AAA offers some helpful tips:

• Get plenty of sleep (at least six hours) before a long trip;

• Travel at times when you are normally awake or stay overnight rather than driving;

• Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles;

• Stop driving if you become sleepy;

• Do not plan to work all day and then drive all night;

• Drink a caffeinated beverage;

• Avoid driving during sleepy times of day; and

• Travel with an awake passenger

Please be extra careful. Don’t become another statistic. Get your rest before climbing behind the wheel.

– Chip Latcham
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