Drowsy driving a danger on the road: Pull over and rest

Drowsy driving doesn’t typically get the publicity that drunk, drugged or distracted driving garners but it should, according to a top insurance executive.

“Nationwide, more than 1,500 people are killed and 71,000 people are hurt every year in crashes involving a driver drifting off to sleep at the wheel or driving drowsy,” said Dyck Van Koevering, general counsel for the Insurance Alliance of Michigan.

All told, drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 car crashes every year.

“Drowsy driving is becoming a serious problem in Michigan and across the country,” he said in a recent agency press release.

That’s why people in the insurance business and law enforcement set aside one week per year as Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, underscoring the importance of staying alert behind the wheel. In 2018, the week was Nov. 4-11.

“These accidents are 100 percent preventable,” Van Koevering said. “Drivers should be sure to get enough rest before they get behind the wheel and make frequent stops during long drives to ensure they stay well-rested.”

The Michigan State Police offers the following tips for drivers before they get on the road or become drowsy behind the wheel, advice we endorse:

— Get between seven and nine hours of sleep before driving.

— Schedule breaks during long trips.

— When you make stops, find a safe place to take a break.

— Avoid alcohol or medications that may cause drowsiness.

Be smart. Don’t start a trip if you’re sleepy. And if you get drowsy along the way, find a safe place to pull over.