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Beware of Drowsy Driving

Time changes and other factors might leave you drowsy when driving to or from an agility trial. Learn the signs and how to avoid a possible accident. By Kelly McFaul-Solem

12-and-a-half-year-old Pronto. Photo courtesy of Audrey Burton Ferrell.
Daylight savings time will begin this Sunday, March 8, 2015, at 2 AM  when "most" of the country "springs ahead" and loses a precious hour. Trial Secretaries may want to put a blurb/reminder about this in their confirmations or mention it at their Saturday briefings!

I am sure a lot of you will be traveling for trials, seminars, and so on next weekend, so please try to get enough sleep on Saturday night, March 7th, so you do not feel drowsy on Sunday morning. Be extra alert as there may be many drowsy drivers on the road... not to mention drowsy texters !

Here are some notes from the National Sleep Foundation:

"There are several signs to indicate fatigue while driving, though many people may not associate the symptoms with fatigue or sleepiness and continue to drive when they should stop."  Here are some signs that should tell a driver to stop and rest.

*       Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
*       Trouble keeping your head up
*       Yawning repeatedly
*       Trouble remembering the last few miles driven; missing exits or traffic signs
*       Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip

Preventing a Fall-Asleep Crash

NSF says the best way to prevent a fall-asleep crash is to "plan ahead and get plenty of sleep before hitting the road. If you start to feel tired while driving, stop or have a driving companion take over.

If you are not stopping for the night, find a safe, well-lit area and take a 15-20 minute nap. Caffeine from coffee or energy drinks can promote short-term alertness, but it takes about  20-30 minutes for it to enter the bloodstream. Blasting a radio, opening a window and similar tricks to stay awake do not work."

For more information about other sleep-related issues, visit NSFs website.

I remind myself of Jane Callaghy's story around this time every year. Jane was an agility competitor who lost her life due to drowsy driving. Read more.... 

Jane's husband, Tom, has posted a thoughtful letter as well. And his video will hopefully convince you how dangerous drowsy driving is. 

Live to Run Again, an organization dedicated to preventing drowsy driving in the dog agility community, has a shiny new website. Take some time to peruse because it has a ton of great info!

Thank you to LRA and TBAC (Tail Blazers Agility Club) for raising awareness on this issue. You have truly made a difference!

And thanks to all you devoted LRA-ers who lug books on tapes and CDs around to all the trials too help keep competitors awake and focused on driving. It is greatly appreciated!

Want to learn more about Daylight Savings Time around the world? Read more....

Sleep deprivation is not a Badge of Honor! TRIAL and TRAVEL SAFELY... and get some zzzzzzzzzzs! 

For the past 22 years, Kelly McFaul-Solem has worked for a commercial photo studio in Duluth, Minnesota. She has been playing agility since 1995 and is currently competing with her mixed breed, Siren, and up and coming Brussels Griffon, Special Agent Scully. Her Pug Shaili remains the only of her breed to earn an ADCh. Kelly can be reached at


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