This summer I attended a conference called TRACTION. It was such an eye-opening experience for me.
I got to hear so many stories of people impacted by bad choices; such as driving while impaired, driving without a seatbelt, driving while tired, etc. These choices have affected people’s lives in major ways.
There was a woman who shared a story that really intrigued me and hit me right at home. It was about a guy named Tyler. Tyler’s mom shared his story with us. She had so much emotion that she put into her speech, that I’m getting teary-eyed all over again just thinking about it. Her son, Tyler, was just such a relatable guy. He was the typical high school athlete who enjoyed life. I saw a lot of myself in him. Tyler died from drowsy driving, and that’s what I want to really explore in this blog post.
Drowsy driving is so overlooked. In 2015, 20% of fatal car crashes in America dealt with drowsy driving. That is about 5,000 people killed from driving tired.
Fatal car crashes annually cost the U.S. around $109 billion, and the easiest one to prevent is drowsy driving. People don’t just normally think, "Well, I’m too tired, so I shouldn’t drive."
This is a sensitive subject for me because my mom almost died due to drowsy driving. I remember waking up at my grandma's house one morning. I listened to a conversation my mom and grandma were having. Mom said that she basically just fell asleep behind the wheel. Thankfully, she heard the rumble strips, woke up, and saw a huge semi truck in front of her. She tried to swerve, but it was too late. Thankfully, she was wearing her seatbelt or the damages would’ve been a lot worse. She got away with just a broken leg.
The NHTSA is moving the definition of drowsy driving to the same catagory as driving while impaired. People always freak out when their friend is about to get behind the wheel while intoxicated or high, so why not freak out when they are too tired to operate a vehicle?
The good thing is that the law enforcement is really trying to crack down on drowsy driving. Coming up with new laws to help the people on the roads stay safe is a positive thing. For example, Utah has many signs put up along their highways to remind citizens of dangerous driving situations and tells them to pull over if they are too tired to drive. That has helped reduce crashes about 65%.
Many people are recommending that states take better data, have stricter workplace policies, and that parents and educators teach teen drivers more about the dangers associated with drowsy driving.
Let's be honest, the one big thing we really have to do is SLEEP MORE! It’s as easy as that. By doing this, we can get rid of about 5,000 fatal car crashes in America.
The next time you’re really tired and you’re about to drive, just think of all the people who have lost their lives because of drowsy driving. Maybe you’ll think twice.
Also, for more information about Tyler and his mom, visit this site: http://www.tyredd.com/