In 1983, my older brother died when the car he was driving went off the road and hit a tree as he drove home from his girlfriend's house shortly before midnight. He was 17. The only person who knows exactly what happened isn't around to ask though we know he hadn't been drinking at the time of the accident. He would have been 51 years old yesterday.
A month ago, my 18 year old son was driving home very late after a night of having fun with 4 of his friends. None of them were drinking but at 4 am, they were all understandably tired. All the passengers fell asleep. Eventually, Alex dozed off, waking up just before he hit a guard rail going 65 mph on Rt. 287. Everyone walked away from the accident with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Our dear friends' son suffered the worst of it with a case of whiplash. The car was beyond repair.
At a well visit at the pediatrician earlier this week, two doctors with no prompting from me emphasized to my daughter who just got her driver's permit that driving while tired is as dangerous as driving after drinking. Having lost my brother in a car accident, I know I made clear to my kids the potential dangers of driving. But before my son's accident, I hadn't shared specific strategies for what to do when you feel tired while driving. We're very lucky that we got a second chance to have that conversation. It's important to talk about; if you haven't, I urge you to do it today.