by Sgt. Troy Liquin, Cache County Sheriff’s Office
I have done this way too often in the last 29 years since I walked out with that coveted document. I need to confess! Then again, I don’t need to. You could ask my family who has driven with me when I am tired, and they could tell you for me.
I HAVE BEEN A DROWSY DRIVER. In my profession you would think that I would have learn lessons from being at horrific accident scenes; seeing the carnage that one careless moment can leave in its wake. Looking into the faces of those that I have delivered news that their loved ones would not be returning home should be enough. No one should ever receive that knock on the door, NO ONE. I know better, I do.
There really are no excuses. I could try and make excuses like I stayed up too late, the kids kept me up or it was a late shift. I could even justify it and say that I am not alone. Afterall, YOU do it too. In 2009, 97 percent of adult Utah motorists admitted that driving while severely drowsy is a major threat, and 44 percent say they have fallen asleep or nodded off for even a moment while driving, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety poll. In the end they are just that, excuses. I need more sleep and so do you. We need to recognize when we are not safe to operate a motor vehicle that is hurtling down the road toward others.
There are plenty of warning signs to help remind us. That voice we hear that says, “No, I am fine.” Sure we are! Because I bet we just spent the last few miles squinting to see down the road. On top of that, you may feel nice and calm….and……LOOK OUT you are in the wrong lane! “Where are we?” or “What did we just pass?” Pride is a terrible thing. Yet it keeps us behind the wheel instead of simply pulling over. Somehow we lose sight of the very value of our own lives and the lives of those we are transporting, not to mention the innocent lives we pass who have no idea what condition we are in as we pass by – IF we pass by.
My career often feels like a looking glass into others’ lives as they go through unimaginable pain from choices made sometimes by them, sometimes by others. You don’t want to look, but you often find yourself staring and wondering why them? Why when a bright future is about to blossom?
Over this past year I have watched a family that lost a son to the dark epidemic of drowsy driving. A simple late night, an earlier drive and a tragic morning changed everything. Grief abounds in all members of this family. Flickers of hope shine through at times in the form of memories. It is the “what ifs” that haunt the memories. It is also this family’s strength to overcome this tragedy that gives me hope. They have a found a voice to speak and share their son with others. Life’s greatest lessons often come from those that have seen the darkest moments. I hope that you and I wake up in time to realize that we never want to experience this family’s pain. Pull over, let someone else drive, get some rest and be safe!