CLARK COUNTY, Ill. (WTHI) – ‘Don’t drink and drive’ or ‘don’t text and drive’ are crucial safety messages for motorists.
But, drowsy drivers are involved in more than 300 thousand crashes each year.
A figure that Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is trying to lower.
Henry Turner has been a truck driver for nine years.
In his time, he’s seen his fair share of drowsy drivers.
Turner says, “If I’m at a truck stop and a driver looks like he’s about to pass out, I say, ‘Hey, you need to go pull over and get you some rest.’”
Drowsy driving can affect anyone behind the wheel no matter the age or experience level.
In fact, drowsy drivers are estimated to make up more than 20 percent of fatal crashes.
Turner says, “I know if I’m drowsy I need to pull over and rest, and if the company has a problem with it, I’ll call them and say, ‘Look, you know, I’m tired, and I need to rest.'”
He says a lot of problems could be solved if drivers would just pull over and stop when they need to. However the biggest issue for truck drivers are their deadlines.
Turner says, “Well, the company, I’ve got a deadline to meet. One thing about it, if you get in an accident, the product isn’t going to get there anyways, so it’s not worth it.”
Sergeant Joe Watts with the Indiana State Police says while unfortunate, people often overlook drowsy driving as an issue.
Watts says, “They don’t think of being the person in front of them or behind them may be a drowsy driver. I think folks when they get sleepy they think, ‘Oh, I’ll pull over in the next ten miles. I’ll pull over in the next twenty miles, maybe the next fifty, and some people simply don’t get that chance to pull over because they crash.”
It’s a sad reality that luckily, some truck drivers like turner have grabbed on to.
Turner says, “I don’t care if they fire me. If I’m tired, I’m tired.”
It’s a tough decision that could save Turner’s life, and other drivers on the road.
AAA has provided drivers with some helpful tips to beat drowsy driving:
- Don’t drive when you’re sleepy.
- If you feel drowsy, try to pull over immediately, park in a safe place, and nap for 20 minutes.
- Travel with an alert passenger who can relieve you at the wheel if you feel tired.
- Coffee, energy drinks, driving with windows open and radio blasting are not sleep substitutes.
- Schedule a break every two hours or 100 miles.
- Travel at times when you are normally awake. Sleeping less than six hours increases your risk of falling asleep at the wheel. Sleeping less than four hours is extremely dangerous.