Virginia State Police are reminding Virginia drivers and others visiting or passing through the Commonwealth of the often deadly consequences of driving while fatigued. Citing data from the VA Department of Motor Vehicle’s Traffic Crash Facts, the police noted that 29 people died in accidents involving one or more drowsy driver during 2010. That year, a total of 2,846 crashes of Virginia roads and highways were attributed to drowsy driving.

The reminder that people should not put themselves in situations where they are at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel is timely. A tour bus whose operator dozed off while driving just north of Richmond, VA, overturned on May 31, 2011. Four passengers lost their lives in that crash. Closer to where I have my main Virginia personal injury law practice in Virginia Beach, a sleeping minivan driver crossed the center line of East Washington Street in Suffolk, VA, on March 17, 2011, hit a school bus head on, and injured 8 children.

As this public service announcement from the National Sleep Foundation warns, “When you drive drowsy, you just might wake up dead.”

In addition to warning about the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel, the Virginia State Police also offered several tips for preventing drowsy driving. Steps to take to ensure you can remain alert, even when driving late at night or early in the morning, include

  • Working less than a full day if you plan a long drive after finishing your workday.
  • Traveling with passengers.
  • Stopping often at rest areas and napping briefly when necessary.
  • Understanding that coffee, caffeinated sodas and energy drinks provide only short relief from fatigue and cannot substitute for actual sleep.