Opinion

Proclamation is the next step in fight for safe roads

Readers of the Valley Record may be aware of the saga of the Shaw family—specifically, their push to end drowsy driving.

In July of 2006, Mora Haggerty Shaw, daughter of Record Publisher William Shaw, suffered multiple major fractures and a traumatic brain injury from a Blewitt Pass drowsy driving accident. She was in a coma for two weeks and spent years in recovery. Yet Mora was one of the lucky ones. She survived.

Since Mora’s accident, the Shaws have been on a mission. Through letters and phone calls, legislative testimony and media interviews, they’ve done all they could to prevent other people from going through the nightmare that their family went through.

This fall marks a promising milepost for Bill and his family. This week is the official Washington Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

To mark this week, all you need to do is be aware of the realities of drowsy driving—it’s potentially deadly, but easily avoided—and share them with others.

People become drowsy while driving for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is sleep loss that could be caused simply by missing the necessary hours of rest or by sleep disorders. Other causes of fatigue can be overnight or split work shifts, jet-lag, medication, alcohol or illegal drug use. Younger drivers 18-25 are also more at-risk, statistically.

Tips for prevention include:

• Get a good night’s sleep before you hit the road.

• Don’t be too rushed to arrive at your destination. Many drivers try to maximize their weekends by driving at night or without stopping for breaks. It’s better to allow the time to drive alert and arrive alive.

• Use the buddy system. Just as you should not swim alone, avoid driving alone for long distances.

• Take a break every 100 miles or two hours. Do something to refresh yourself like getting a snack, switching drivers, or going for a run.

• Take a nap — find a safe place to take a short nap, if you think you might fall asleep. Be cautious about excessive drowsiness after waking up.

You can learn more at www.drowsydriving.org.

 

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