EDITORIAL: Don’t drive drowsy this holiday weekend RGV

As Semana Santa heads into full gear and many in the Rio Grande Valley hit the roads this weekend to visit loved ones for the holidays, we remind drivers to stay alert, and take frequent rest breaks to avoid drowsy driving, which can be a killer.

While distracted driving, weather and impaired driving are major road threats, drowsy driving can also be deadly. And a new study found that Texas leads the nation in drowsy- driving related fatalities.

Texas had 159 sleep-related fatalities in 2016, or 22.1 percent — much more than the No. 2 ranked Alabama, which had 43, or 6 percent. California was third with 38 fatalities, 5.3 percent, according to sleepjunkie.org, which studies sleep patterns and sleep-related issues.

“No state experienced more deadly consequences of driver fatigue than Texas. The Lone Star State accounted for more than one in five fatal accidents involving a sleepy driver,” the study found.

The California Highway Patrol reports an uptick in that state in drowsy-related fatalities following the switch to daylight saving time. With our clocks just shorting us an hour a couple weeks ago, our body clocks still might not be adjusted, so be cognizant of this and make sure you are well rested before hitting the road, nap at rest stops, or shell out for a hotel if you feel too tired to continue driving.

Most drowsy-driving crashes tend to be with objects other than vehicles, 69 percent. “This implies drowsy drivers often drift from the roadway, crashing into obstacles intended for these scenarios (such as guardrails) as well as those that aren’t (such as stop signs),” the report found. Fifteen percent are front-to-front crashes with another vehicle; 7.5 percent are front-to-rear crashes and 6.7 percent are broadside, or glancing crashes with other vehicles. The hours of 3 a.m. and from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. are when the most drowsy-driving fatalities occur. And most fatalties occur on Sundays.

Don’t be one when returning from this holiday weekend. Stay alert. Stay awake. Watch out for drowsy drivers and stay safe.

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