Editor's Note

Editor's Note: Driving while drowsy

When I was in my 20s, a family member, only a few years out of college, was promoted to a management position with a large territory to travel. He drove long hours. I remember many times when my home phone would ring late at night (this was so early in the days of cell phones that I didn’t even own one yet), and it would be him, driving back to his home, his speech slow and his voice thick with fatigue. Although I don’t remember us ever acknowledging it openly, we both knew he was looking for someone to talk to so he didn’t fall asleep behind the wheel. So I’d stay up, often long past my usual bedtime, asking lots of questions to keep him talking, and making sure my own responses were short enough that he didn’t have an opportunity to drift off. Only when he had pulled into his driveway and said good night did my tight shoulders relax.

Thinking about it now, I’m appalled at the danger that he, a young man working to prove himself at a prestigious company, put himself in. (And knowing what I now know about the dangers of distracted driving, I’m equally appalled at my role in his driving hundreds of miles on dark roads while talking on a cell phone.)

This month, Associate Editor Tom Musick reports on a recent National Transportation Safety Board forum on drowsy driving and its link to fatalities. At that forum, one panelist stressed the need to educate the public that professional drivers are by no means the only workers at risk.

A sign over the expressway I take to work has a message board that frequently cautions motorists against driving while drowsy. I hope the message becomes as well-known as warnings about drunk driving, and that you, whether you’re driving for work or with your family, take that message to heart. Please stay safe.

Melissa J. Ruminski The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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