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

Posted November 24, 2010 5:21 p.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2010 7:24 p.m. EST

— 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.)

“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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