Law enforcement warns travelers to avoid driving while drowsy

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is reminding travelers not to drive while drowsy since it can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk. The reminder was posted on Facebook early Sunday morning, one day before a semi-truck driver was taken to a hospital in Kittitas County after he fell asleep behind the wheel. The Washington State Patrol says the crash happened just before 4:30 A.M. Monday. WSP says the semi crashed onto its side on Interstate 90 near Ellensburg. Officials say driving drowsy is dangerous because it impairs reaction time and makes it harder to focus on the road. FCSO’s Sgt. Gordon Thomasson believes drowsy driving is becoming more common than it used to be. “All of us have more pressure being put on. We’re working longer hours. We’re trying to fit more things into our busy and so what seems to be sacrifice? Our sleepy normally.” According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 846 people died in drowsy driving-related crashes in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the drivers mostly likely to drive while drowsy include commercial drivers and those who work night shifts or long shifts, something Sgt. Thomasson is all too familiar with. “I’ve experienced firsthand myself where it’s like, ‘Ok, I am not doing real well driving right now and I need to get to a well-lit building, wake up, so that I can continue on in a safe manner.” He adds that if drivers get too tired to continue down the road, they should pull off the road, find a safe spot to park in a well-lit area and “turn on your hazards, lock your doors and take a 10, 15-minute nap.” Sgt. Thomasson says doing so can make the difference between going home later or not at all.

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