"Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house, we go. The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow."

The lyrics from this famous Christmas song describe many families here in Texas going on a trip to see loved ones, making plans to have a fun and joyful experience. However, Value Penguin by LendingTree.com and NHTSA have shared recent findings about fatal crashes caused by drowsy drivers, and we Texans are not doing so well. Texas now leads the country on drowsy-driving fatal crashes.

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Value Penguin's latest findings reveal that numbers of drowsy or sleepy drivers across America have been coming down for the past three years. However, Texans are doing the opposite. The numbers show that Texas had 32 fatal drowsy-driving crashes during the 2023 Memorial Day holiday. On Labor Day weekend of 2023, these numbers tallied 40 fatal drowsy-driving crashes.

How do we change this? Here is a list from the Department of Transportation and the NHTSA with helpful tips for a safer drive.

The Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following if you are going to travel. Here's how to Avoid Driving Drowsy:

  1. Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is the only true way to protect yourself against the risks of driving when you’re drowsy. Experts urge consumers to make it a priority to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. For more information on healthy sleep, see In Brief: Your Guide to Healthy Sleep (PDF, 1.81 MB) at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website.
  2. Before the start of a long family car trip, get a good night’s sleep, or you could put your entire family and others at risk.
  3. Many teens do not get enough sleep at a stage in life when their biological need for sleep increases, which makes them vulnerable to the risk of drowsy-driving crashes, especially on longer trips. Advise your teens to delay driving until they’re well-rested.
  4. Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving. Consumption of alcohol interacts with sleepiness to increase drowsiness and impairment.
  5. Always check your prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness could result from their use.
  6. If you take medications that could cause drowsiness as a side effect, use public transportation when possible.
  7. If you drive, avoid driving during the peak sleepiness periods (midnight – 6 a.m. and late afternoon). If you must drive during the peak sleepiness periods, stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over roadway lines or hitting a rumble strip, especially if you’re driving alone. Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The most drowsy-driver crashes occurred with people ages 25 to 54-years-old, followed by those ages 16 to 24-year-olds. The 55 and older group is more likely to be rested before traveling.

Please stay awake and drive carefully.

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