It's important to get where you're going, but do not force yourself to continue driving if you can't stay awake or operate your car properly. That message was illustrated by the tragic single-car accident on Interstate 95 (I-95) in Hanover County, Virginia (VA). The driver became "fatigued" and ran off the road hitting a tree, according to the starexponent.com.
The two backseat passengers were killed in the wreck while the at-fault driver and another passenger are receiving medical treatment at VCU Medical Center. Reports indicate the four people were on their way to attend a college graduation.
Police have charged the at-fault driver with reckless driving. Yes, drowsy driving is considered reckless and carries harsh penalties. This offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the same category as driving while under the influence (DUI). The punishment could be up to one year in jail, and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Your driver's license could also be suspended for up to six months.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 car crashes are the direct result of drowsy drivers. This results in an estimated 1,550 car accident deaths and 71,000 serious injuries, according to drowsydriving.org. And these stats may not even tell the whole story since it is difficult to determine whether or not a car wreck was directly caused by drowsiness.
In order to avoid drowsy/sleepy driving, take frequent breaks on your trip. Don't try to make a 12 hour drive in a day without stopping. Be sure to get a good night's rest prior to trip so you are fully energized. People seem to forget that driving requires an active and engaged mind frame so being rested and taking necessary precautions throughout your journey is crucial to not join the statistics of drowsy driving car accidents.