March 03, 2021

Ambulance driver’s drowsy-driving crashes into Lanier County roadside parked car

Jan 20, 2021 | , ,

By Carol A. Gasser Moore

LANIER COUNTY, Georgia – Statically, national records show that most drowsy-driving accidents are caused by motorists younger than 25.  Last week’s GA Hwy-31 drowsy-driving accident didn’t fit the national statistics.  However, anyone who drove past the accident couldn’t help but wonder if the driver’s occupation had something to do with his accident, especially with the magnitude of the pandemic on all members of the medical profession.

Three Rivers EMS (Emergency Medical Service) Ambulance driver Gaines Spell (48) was travelling north on GA Hwy-31 when he deviated off course side swiping a truck about 50 feet from the Allen Road intersection at an estimated 7:01 a.m. on Wednesday, January 13th.  Spell was in a 2012 Ford Econoline EMS equipped vehicle and travelling north.  The unoccupied 2000 Chevrolet Silverado truck was parked on the east shoulder of the roadway legally when Spell veered from his lane.

Spell told Office C.A. Poore, “I am my partner were traveling back home [Baxley, GA] from a long transport and I dozed off while driving.”

The owner of the truck was contacted by the Georgia State Patrol (GPS) and informed of the accident.  The owner of the truck was Charles Farrow (23) of Claxton, GA.  Farrow stated, “I blew a tire on the driver side front the day before about 2000 hours and I was planning to return today and pick the truck up.”

According to GPS records, the day before a Lanier County Sheriff’s Office Deputy conducted a motorist assist on the vehicle around 2000 hours and the owner was on scene as he had stated. According to the evidence, the Chevrolet Silverado’s tires were off the roadway prior to the motor vehicle accident and it was parked according to the law.

The GPS accident report indicates that the “traffic accident scene was videoed, but not audio record, due to body mic not operational.”

Drowsy-driving accidents happen frequent.   There are on average about 328,000 drowsy-driving accidents on U.S. roadways annually.  It happens far too often: Drivers struggle to keep their eyes open, putting themselves and other drivers at risk.  Earlier this year, a driver launched nearly 30 feet through his windshield after slamming into a tollbooth in Florida.  FSP later discovered drowsy driving was the cause.

General Motors Chevy safety engineer Maureen Short said, “One of the biggest problems about driving while drowsy is impaired decision making.  Drowsiness, unfortunately, it generally happens over time.  The problem is, you as a driver are a very poor judge of how tired you are.”

IT is known that drivers are encouraged to think that caffeine may seem like a quick fix, it is highly unpredictable.  The Lanier County News has learned that a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report found that a driver who drinks coffee can still have “microsleeps” or briefly lose consciousness for a few seconds – more than enough time to cause an accident.

The NHTSA encourages drivers, who still want to drink coffee, can drink one or two cups and then pull over for a 20-minute nap at a safe, designated stop. This has been shown to increase alertness, but only for short periods.

According to the NHTSA, the best thing to do is get consistent rest, especially before longer drives.

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