A College Park police officer suffered serious injuries on Memorial Day when a driver who fell asleep at the wheel crashed into his parked patrol car, according to AJC.com. The officer is lucky to be alive. He was rushed to a local hospital with severe injuries but was listed in stable condition. The Georgia State Patrol is investigating to determine how the incident occurred.

The initial reports indicate that a driver fell asleep at the wheel before crashing into the police car after working all night. The accident happened around 9:30 a.m. on Interstate 85 northbound at or near the interchange with Interstate 285 eastbound. The injured police officer was performing routine traffic patrol and had positioned his car in the median to monitor the heavy Memorial Day traffic when he was struck.

According to the preliminary statement released by the Georgia State Patrol, a man was driving a Chevy Tahoe SUV eastbound on I-285 and lost control of his car when he dozed off while driving. His vehicle drifted onto the median and rammed the officer’s patrol car with such great force that it subsequently spun the patrol car around and threw it into a guardrail. Although serious, the officer’s injuries were non-life threatening. Additionally, the man who fell asleep suffered minor injuries and also went to the hospital for examination. The Georgia State Patrol charged the man with failure to change lanes safely. However, additional charges may be filed pending the outcome of the investigation.

Falling asleep at the wheel is a common problem among adult motorists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 100,000 car crashes are caused by driver fatigue annually. On average, 1,550 people are killed, and another 71,000 people are injured every year by sleepy drivers. Additionally, nearly $12.5 billion worth of property damage is reported each year as a result of tired drivers causing crashes.

The problem of drowsy driving might be more prevalent than is reported. Considering there are no tests such as a blood test or a breathalyzer test for fatigued driving, it is impossible to determine the precise number of people nodding off behind the wheel. Self-reporting is not the most reliable method of gathering information because people have motives to be less than truthful about driving while extremely tired.

A fatigued driver is a dangerous driver. Driving while feeling drowsy not only causes people to fall asleep while driving, it also causes motorists to lose attention and become distracted. A tired driver’s thinking is slowed and muddled, throwing the driver’s judgment off. Additionally, studies show that tired drivers lose patience faster and experience higher levels of stress. Driving on long rural roads increases the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.

Young men are particularly at risk for falling asleep while driving. Young drivers are the most likely to continue to drive while drowsy. Men, in general, are two times more likely to fall asleep while driving than women. Additionally, people who sleep only six hours or less per night are at twice the risk of getting into a sleep-related accident than someone who sleeps seven or eight hours per night.

Drivers should be aware of the risks involved with driving while drowsy and should take the appropriate measures to ensure they stay awake and alert behind the wheel at all times.

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