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"It's 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." While the horse may know the way and will more than likely stay awake during the entire trip. We Texans need to stay awake and alert while traveling during the holidays.

This famous Christmas song describes a family going on a trip to see loved ones during the holidays as a fun and joyful experience. However, valuepenguin.com and NHTSA recently shared a study about fatal crashes caused by drowsy drivers. So this Christmas while traveling please be extra careful

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Value Penguin released their latest findings on drowsy drivers in America, and the results aren't good for Texans. While the latest findings reveal that drowsy or sleepy drivers across America is down in the last two years. Much of that might be attributed to the fact that a lot of Americans were and many still are working from home.

While the Value Penguin and the NHTSA and the USDOT findings have revealed that drowsy driver crashes have literally dropped from 2016 to 2020 a whopping 22.6%. Furthermore, it's been said that between 2019 and 2020 the drop was 15% the biggest drop in that time frame.

These are the latest numbers that put Texas near the top of the list at number three. While the state of Wyoming takes the number one spot and Maine is number two for most fatalities caused by drowsy drivers. In addition, these rankings rate all fifty states with the most percentage of crashes that were caused directly by drowsy drivers. Here are the top ten:

Rank  State         % of fatal crashes
1         Wyoming    9.3%
2         Maine         5.9%
3        Texas        4.6%
4         Colorado    4.4%
5         Alabama    4.0%
5         Idaho          4.0%
7         Utah           3.9%
8         Alaska       3.6%
9         Montana   3.5%
10       Kansas      3.2%

I believe the saddest part is that young people are responsible for more fatal drowsy driver crashes. The most drowsy driver crashes occurred with people ages 25 to 54 years old, then it's the 16 to 24-year-olds. Surprisingly the 55 and older group is more likely to get their rest prior to traveling.

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

All in all, in my opinion, I feel as though a lot of drowsy driver crashes can be avoided by simply following the "Alert Driver"  suggestions of the NHTSA. So while planning to go over the hills and through the woods, include 16 hours of good restful sleep in your plans (that's eight hours to get there and eight hours for the trip back).

Remember to have fun and Deck The Halls Y'all.

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