By: Laney Sifford
Drunk drivers are not the only hazards on South Carolinas' roads. Drowsy drivers also pose a major threat according the American Automobile Association. Tina Kirkland, the branch manager at Columbia's AAA office, says a AAA study found two out of every five drivers admit to falling asleep behind the wheel. She said that most accidents involving a drowsy driver occur between noon and 5:00 p.m.
"It's that afternoon lull," said Kirkland. "After lunch people get sleepy or need a nap. They might not have enough caffeine and they're driving at that time. The worst time you can drive is after a full day of work, an then drive all night."
The AAA study found nearly one-third of all accidents involve a sleep deprived driver. Aaron Kingrey, a senior at the University of South Carolina, is a victim of someone who feel asleep at the wheel. He said he woke up Saturday morning to find the side of his car smashed by a drowsy driver.
"The guy who evidently hit my car left a note explaining everything that happened, his insurance information, and he apologized. I guess he was just too tired on his way to work Saturday morning," said Kingrey.
An advisory from AAA said that drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 are twice as likely to be involved in an accident as a result of sleep deprivation than those in their 40's and 50's. Younger drivers should especially use precaution when making long trips.
AAA provides a list of suggestions to remain alert throughout a long distance drive that includes having an wide-awake passenger and getting at least six hours of sleep before you make any trip. Experts say driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated so make sure to pull off the road and rest if you begin to feel drowsy.