I should note here that I did this as a private citizen. As a part of an official
disclaimer, I mention that I was a California Highway Patrol officer when this was
enacted. This is to show how familiar I am with this problem. This identification
does not imply the official support of the CHP in this effort. (Note: However, the
CHP decided to support my educational efforts by creating a brochure and an educational
campaign to inform the public of the dangers of driving while drowsy, sleepy or fatigued.
Click the links above to view copied of their brochures.)
The resolution was submitted to the California Legislature by California State
Senator Joseph Dunn.
On March 10th, the resolution pass the California Senate by a vote of 32 to 0.
On April 4, 2005, it passed the California Assembly by unanimous vote with 58 co-authors.
It is was then enrolled by the Secretary of State and is now "official."
Driving while drowsy is a problem almost all driver's have experienced. It is a very
insidious problem in that it can affect every driver, and it sneaks up on you. You
will see some statistics below about how many people have been killed or injured in
collisions related to drowsy, sleepy or fatigued drivers. These numbers are much
lower than the actual amount because officials do not always know when a driver has
fallen asleep. Often the driver will not admit to having fallen asleep, as that would
place them at fault and make them liable. Also, if the driver dies before they can
give a statement, we will never know that they fell asleep before they crashed.
As a California Highway Patrol officer, I have experienced these tragedies on a
I have fallen asleep behind the wheel. It happened many years ago when my son was a baby
and in the hospital. The hospital was some distance from my job (long before I became a
CHP Officer), and even further from my home. My son spent 18 days in the hospital. One day
after many days of work, spending time with my son, and limited sleep, I fell asleep
while driving home. I woke up in the grassy center divider of the Texas interstate.
No damage was done, no one was hurt. But, the potential for disaster had been very
real. I had felt the change in the roadway and I woke up in time to avoid a
In 1999, I experienced this tragedy on a personal basis. My wife Robyn (see her story
on this webpage:
http://americanindian.net/sleep.html ) fell asleep behind the wheel while she was
traveling from Florida to California. She did not survive the collision that ensued.
Robyn was one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. She was also a very good
driver. This shows how insidious this problem is, and how it can happen to anyone.
It is my hope that highlighting this problem will help to educate the driving public
about this problem. If this project saves the life of just one person, it will have
been worth any efforts that I, and the supporters of this proposal, have made.
A sign beside the freeway in Utah in 2007.
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 27
SCR 27, Dunn. Drowsy Driver Awareness Day.
This measure would proclaim April 6, 2005, as Drowsy Driver
Awareness Day, request the Governor to make a similar proclamation,
and designate the state's observance of April 6 every year thereafter
as a memorial day for those people who have died as a result of a
collision involving a drowsy driver.
WHEREAS, From 1993 to 2003, according to statistics compiled by
the Department of the California Highway Patrol, approximately 100
people were killed each year in California in collisions where a
drowsy driver was involved; and
WHEREAS, In that 10-year period, 41,228 people have been injured
in California in collisions where a drowsy driver was involved; and
WHEREAS, In that 10-year period, there were 28,533 collisions
involving a drowsy driver where no one was injured, but significant
property damage occurred; and
WHEREAS, All of these fatalities, injuries, and property damage
could have been avoided; and
WHEREAS, A 1999 poll by the National Sleep Foundation discovered
that 62 percent of all adults surveyed reported driving a car or
other motor vehicle while feeling drowsy in the prior year; and
WHEREAS, The same poll revealed that 27 percent of the adults
reported that they had, at some time, dozed off while driving; and
WHEREAS, This poll also found that 23 percent of adults stated
that they know someone who experienced a fall-asleep crash within the
past year; and
WHEREAS, The United States National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) estimates that approximately 100,000
police-reported crashes annually, that is about 1.5 percent of all
crashes, involve drowsiness or fatigue as a principal causal factor;
WHEREAS, At least 71,000 people are injured in fall-asleep crashes
each year; and, NHTSA estimates these crashes represent $12,500,000
in monetary losses each year; and
WHEREAS, Many more people die each year from crashes related to
drowsy, sleepy, or fatigued drivers than from many serious illnesses;
WHEREAS, Many California residents die each year, including Robyn
Meryl Amsel Mellon Konstantin, who died in a collision on April 6,
1999, while driving when she was drowsy; and
WHEREAS, This problem can affect every person who operates or
rides in a motor vehicle, or who walks, stands, or sits near a
WHEREAS, This problem can be solved by making drivers aware of the
risks of driving without adequate rest; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly
thereof concurring, That April 6, 2005, is hereby proclaimed by the
Legislature as Drowsy Driver Awareness Day; and be it further
Resolved, That the Governor is requested to make a similar
proclamation; and be it further
Resolved, That this measure be adopted with urgency as this April
6th marks the sixth anniversary of the death of California resident
Robyn Meryl Amsel Mellon Konstantin who died in 1999 on that date;
and be it further
Resolved, That April 6th of every year after this resolution is
enacted be designated as a memorial day to observe the importance of
educating the public on drowsy driving, and to remember those
thousands of Californians who have died in collisions related to
drowsy driving; and be it further
Resolved, That the observance of Drowsy Driver Awareness Day
emphasize the preventability of all crashes related to drowsy
driving; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit a copy of this
resolution to the author for appropriate distribution and to the
- O -
Below is a list of some of the people and organizations who are supported this effort:
The National Sleep Foundation
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Warning Signs of Drowsy Driving
Inability to remember last few miles
Having disconnected or wandering thoughts
Problems focusing or keeping eyes open
Drifting from lane to lane
Your head keeps nodding or feels heavy
Tailgating other vehicles
Missing traffic signs or exits
Steps You Can Take to Avoid this Problem
Get a good night’s sleep before traveling.
Avoid driving late at night, or during your normal sleeping times.
Set realistic travel goals.
Eat healthy meals. Avoid foods high in fat or sugar, which can contribute to fatigue.
Avoid using alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs which affect driving.
Share driving tasks, switch drivers every couple of hours.
Take regular breaks. Stop every two hours to stretch.
Drink water, juice, or soft drinks low in sugar & caffeine. Both can promote short-term alertness, but can increase drowsiness over longer periods of time.
Keep the temperature inside your vehicle cool.
Listen to radio talk shows, rather than music. This format can help keep you alert.
Please feel free to add a link to this site. I am available for media interviews to
discuss sleepy drivers or Robyn's crash. Several years ago, I made a series of TV
Public Service Announcements (PSAs) for the CHP in which I talk about Robyn's crash.
The PSAs might still be available for airplay. You can contact me by e-mail or at the
address below if you are interested in doing an interview on this subject.
California Highway Patrol Officer, retired
P.O. Box 17515
San Diego, CA 92177
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