Tired drivers causing more road deaths in Richmond area

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- State Police are putting out an urgent message today: do not drive tired. In the past several months, seven people have died on the road. State Police say that's all because of tired drivers.

It's the story that continues to make headlines. A bus, driven by Kin Yiu Cheung, overturned and ends up on it's roof on Interstate 95 in Caroline County. Four people died.

Cheung admits he was tired and actually fell asleep behind the wheel, woke up, and then flipped the bus when he awoke and tried to correct.

A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning in July, another deadly accident. This time on I-95 in Prince George County. One person is killed and five others are injured.

Then just a week after that, another accident, just a few miles away. This time two people are killed.

The common themes: all early in the morning, all on long drives, all ended with an overturned car.

That's all startling news for Kathlyn Jones, who is heading down to the Outer Banks later this month. She's making plans now to make sure no one in the car with her, drives drowsy.

"We can swap off drivers as needed and we even check up on each other as we are driving down," she says.

That's exactly what Sgt. Thomas Molnar with the State Police wants to hear, especially when it's one of his troopers that has to deal with the deadly accidents on the roads all too often.

"The stress is on the trooper that has to make that next of kin notification and tell that family member someone died because of someone being fatigued," says Sgt. Molnar.

Also, it's not just those who die that concern him. "In my experience I've stopped a number of people that are swerving or running off the shoulder and they are not drunk, but just tired."

That's why he asks that you take breaks at a rest stop and don't drive after a full day of work.

This all leads up to the unofficial end of the summer travel season, Labor Day weekend, when several people usually die on the road. Many of us hope that will turn around this year.

Traveling Tips:
  • Get a full night's sleep before traveling.  7 to 8 hours of rest is recommended. Do not work a full day if you intend on traveling once you leave work.
  • If possible, do not travel alone.  Licensed passengers can take turns and you can rest between shifts.
  • Take frequent breaks by stopping at a rest area, gas station, or restaurant.  Do not stop on the shoulder of roadway to rest.  Exit off the interstate to a safe and lighted location.
  • Anticipate needed breaks.  You can take a short 20-minute nap during your stops if traveling alone.
  • Caffeine and Energy Drinks provide a quick, but short-lived improvement
  • If you are taking any medication, check whether it causes drowsiness.  You do not want to be arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.
  • Don't drink and drive. Alcohol severely impairs your driving ability, but it also acts as a depressant.
  • Call your friends or family during your stops to let them know you stopped to rest.  They want to know you will be there safe and sound.

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