Drowsy driving causing more accidents, costing insurance industry more

LaGRANGE, Ga- You’ve heard about distracted, drunk, and drugged driving. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding “drowsy” to that list.

Kasey Dandy gets it. She’s worked overnight and knows that tired feeling.  But she’s always careful when driving.

“I’ve done that before where I’ve gotten so sleepy to call someone to just make it home and make sure I stay awake,” says Dandy.

Sadly, not everyone is as awake about the dangers of drowsy driving. Close to 5,000 people died last year in crashes blamed on sleepy drivers.

“We’ve seen people lose their lives, but also take other people’s lives, because they failed to get rest,” says Sgt. Maurice Raines, commander of the Georgia State Patrol Post 2 in LaGrange.

Sleep-deprived drivers who cause accidents that hurt or kill someone are no less immune from the criminal consequences than those who drive drunk or are otherwise distracted.

“If someone were to cross the center line and hit another vehicle and kill someone, they would be charged with vehicular homicide in the second degree,” says Sgt. Raines.

The insurance industry is also taking notice. Last year, $109 billion in claims resulted from accidents involving drowsy drivers.

“Lost lives, catastrophic injuries, and life long care, and that type of thing. There’s all sorts of expenses and heartaches involved in that,” says Faye Perdue, a State Farm agent in Manchester.

Dr. Sandy Simmons, a pulmonologist in LaGrange says we can improve our rest by practicing habits that promote sleep.

“Turn off the TV at least 30 minutes before you go to bed, you got to turn off your cell phone, you got to turn off your computer. The best thing to do is read. Try not to read in bed. Read on the side of the bed. Get ready to go to sleep,” says Dr. Simmons.

Dr. Simmons adds you really can’t catch up on sleep, so it’s important to get plenty of rest each night.

Doctors suggest teens and young adults get a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night.

If you think you, or a loved one, have sleep problems, consult your doctor.

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