By: Felicia Farley
Drowsy driving is a dangerous phenomenon. When driving drowsy a person’s reaction time is the equivalent of a person driving drunk. With the holidays just around the corner, traffic stops are going to rise with law enforcement agencies increasing their presence on the roads. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll, “37% admit to actually having fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year” and more than half admitted to have driven while sleepy (Drowsy Driving: Symptoms & Solutions).
Gabriel Arredondo, a Sonora Police Officer, said it best in an interview, “You will run into these people on the side of the road with zero alcohol in their system, but they present with impaired motor skills.” Officer Arredondo also noted that in Sonora, Texas there are as many as six different law enforcement agencies that patrol their roads and they all work together to keep the public safe.
The National Safety Council reports “driving after going more than 20 hours without sleep is the equivalent of driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% – the U.S. legal limit” (On The Road). People are more likely to be involved in a car crash if fatigued being that reaction times and hazard awareness are worse when drowsy.
Law enforcement knows many people will be reckless around the holidays. Sargent Justin Baker with the Texas Highway Patrol has been with the department for 18 years as of 2020. In an interview Sargent Baker described the four seasons the Texas Highway Patrol calls “Operation Holiday” when officers are not allowed to be off to help be both visual and physical deterrents. Those being Christmas, New Years Eve, 4th of July, and Memorial Day weekend. Sargent Baker described “the 11 hour rule, 10 hour rule and the 14 hour rule” these are in place to help keep long-haul truck drivers from becoming drowsy on the road (Baker). Broken down there are 24 hours in a day; 10 hours of rest are required, given an hour to wind down and another hour to wake up. Then there are 14 hours to work and drive, although there was a study done showing “that at the 11th hour drivers started making critical errors” so only 11 hours of driving can be done by a truck driver in a single day (Baker).
Officer Gabriel Arredondo. City of Sonora Police Department. Retrieved October 19, 2020. Zoom Interview.
Sargent Justin Baker. Texas Highway Patrol. Retrieved October 20, 2020. Zoom Interview.
Drowsy Driving: Symptoms & Solutions. (2020, July 28). Retrieved October 24, 2020, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/drowsy-driving
On The Road. (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2020, from https://www.nsc.org/road-safety/safety-topics/fatigued-driving