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N.C. State linebacker featured in 'drowsy driving' PSA

Posted November 24, 2010

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— As powerful as N.C. State football standout Nate Irving is on the football field, his most powerful moment might just be captured in a new public service announcement.

On June 28, 2009, the 22-year-old linebacker was visiting his family in his hometown of Wallace when he decided to drive back to Raleigh.

It was late. He shrugged off feeling tired and set out on the 90-mile trip he had made countless times before.

Thirty miles from Raleigh, however, Irving fell asleep behind the wheel, and his SUV hit two trees.

He woke up in the emergency room at WakeMed in Raleigh with a separated shoulder, collapsed lung, cracked ribs and a compound fracture in his left leg.

“I could have died because I didn’t get enough rest,” Irving said. “I was lucky, but the next person may not be.”

One of 2,048 people last year injured in wrecks involving driving drowsing, he is now lending his face to a new state campaign to bring awareness to drowsy driving. (See the public service announcement below.)

Nate Irving N.C. State football standout warns of drowsy driving

“I went through that for a reason,” Irving said. “I think my reason was to share with other people and let them know what I went through and possible prevent other people from going through the same thing.”

DOT traffic engineer Kevin Lacy said a vehicle speeding at a rate of 60-70 mph travels about 100 feet per second. Dozing off for three or four seconds, could mean 300 to 400 feet of putting

“It’s easily a formula for disaster,” he said.

Since 2005, North Carolina has averaged about 27 deaths a year, more than 2,200 injuries and more than 2,900 crashes, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Statistics on drowsy driving do not reflect how big the problem is, the DOT said, because most drivers involved in crashes don’t admit they fell asleep at the wheel.

“I think it is exceptional that Nate Irving is warning people about the hazards that he personally experienced,” Lacy said. “It is 100 percent avoidable.”

Avoiding drowsy driving

The North Carolina Department of Transportation offers the following recommendations to help avoid drowsy driving:

  • Get at least six hours of good sleep the night before a trip.
  • Stop, pull over to a safe place and take a nap if sleepy.
  • Travel at times when you are normally awake.
  • Travel with a passenger who is awake.
  • Take a break every two hours, or every 150 miles.
  • Drink a caffeinated beverage and wait about 30 minutes. Remember that caffeine will help keep you awake but not always alert.

Nate Irving's public service announcment

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6 Comments

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  • joekathyjoekathy Dec 1, 2010

    Firecaptain2000 , that was funny. I like banana putting.. But you must not be surprised, It has to be remembered that most articles are written at the sixth grade reading level, so more can understand the article. I must admit though I have been very shocked at most of the grammar mistakes in the News Observer, I really wonder where they find their proof readers. Many times I have to re-read an think what a waste of an education.

  • dsalter Nov 26, 2010

    It's good message. I retired from driving trucks for 32 years and logged 3 million miles and know it's a difficult thing to stay awake, especially on an interstate. An interstate has a tendency to hypnotize and it will cause you to react a couple of seconds slower than you normally would, or if you are asleep it might cause you to hit something at a much higher speed. For this reason, I would never use a cruise control if I felt the least bit tired and on wet roads, not at all...it has no feel for the road conditions like you would normally. Another thing is, to watch for slowing vehicles. The first thing a person does when they're tired is to relax on the accelerator, and you will find yourself right on top of a slow moving vehicle which has displayed no brake lights or warning signs of slowing. Nate is a great player for my Pack and I'm glad he's okay. He'll be a 1st rounder for the big bucks most likely.

  • oldrebel Nov 25, 2010

    Powerfrul message and so very needed.

  • firecaptain2000 Nov 25, 2010

    I just viewed the PSA, and what a great message! Unfortunately, I think Nate's script writer needs the help of an editor. The script should have read, "I could have KILLED myself or someone else"... a "Kilt" is something that we shouldn't wear during an airport search, according to the TSA. TSA, PSA, I suppose all of these acronymns get confusing after awhile...

  • firecaptain2000 Nov 25, 2010

    QUOTE: ""DOT traffic engineer Kevin Lacy said a vehicle speeding at a rate of 60-70 mph travels about 100 feet per second. Dozing off for three or four seconds, could mean 300 to 400 feet of putting “It’s easily a formula for disaster,” he said.""

    OK first comment: Shouldn't the word "speeding" actually be "traveling"? 70 is the speed limt in the area of Nate's crash and for most other sections of I-40 East of Raleigh.

    Second comment: Can anyone explain what the word "putting" means in the quote above? Maybe he had Thanksgiving on his mind like me. In a few hours I'm gonna show my thanks and eat a huge bowl of bananna "putting"

  • lvhv2003 Nov 25, 2010

    Great message Nate and NCDOT! And I am glad Nate is alive and well after this terrible crash. Where is this message being shown? I hope it is on all television stations. Now how about some public messages on drunk driving and driving while texting?