Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Sleepy and tired are impairments when driving

Ray Savage
By Ray Savage

The date was Feb. 10, 1992, and a cold rain was falling.  I was traveling east on Highway 50 four miles west of Peabody where I resided. 

At the time, Highway 50 had no shoulders and ditches that quickly dropped off to nothing. Although I am missing the next 2.5 days, the police report states that I swerved into the opposite lane because I encountered a vehicle traveling west in my lane. 

The 18-year-old driver from Chicago, who was driving a stolen vehicle, swerved back and we collided head on. The police determined I was traveling 61 mph and the 18-year-old was traveling 73 mph. There were no skid marks. 

After being extracted from my small Mazda truck that took over an hour, I was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. The doctors found that I had gashes in my forehead, elbow and chin that required stitches. The third and fourth vertebrae's in my neck were cracked, my nose was broken and my septum was deviated - injuries that eventually required a separate surgery. My left collar bone was broken, my large intestine was ruptured along with my spleen and appendix, requiring exploratory surgery. Numerous bumps, bruises, cuts and scrapes; and, two months later, they found that my right leg had been broken. 

This horrific accident was caused by an impaired driver. Yet, the toxicology report on the18-year-old driver came back clean. So, how could he have been impaired?  He was sleepy!!  He was tired!! Yes, being sleepy and tired are impairments when driving any type of vehicle. 

The 18-year-old, who was not wearing a seat belt, was killed at the scene when he was thrown through the windshield. Can you imagine his parents getting the news that their son had been killed in an automobile accident in Kansas? They may not have even known he had left the Chicago area. 

I had my seat belt on. Although, it caused my broken collar bone and internal injuries, I have no doubt that it saved my life. Remember, however, that the year was 1992 and seat belts were not required to be worn. I never wore my seat belt and the buckle was under the seat. So how did it get on? I know what I believe - I will, however, let you draw your own conclusion.  

Ray Savage is retired from the Peabody-Burns School District and lives in Peabody.




  1. This is my brother. I love him very much. His story brings tears to my eyes because I know that he is a miracle and that seat belts save lives. During last year's Put the Brakes on Fatalities campaign, my son - Logan O'Dea - wrote of his own experience with a car wreck where he would have been dead or very physically impaired if not for the life-saving device of a seat belt. Buckle up, every time!

  2. Thank you Ray for sharing your story and two very important messages...sleepy driving is impaired driving and seat belts save lives. You are truly a miracle and we are so grateful that you are willing to share your stories.

  3. This is my brother and I love him very much. Because he was wearing his seat belt, I have had the joy of having him in my life for the last 26 years. If his story doesn't convince a person to wear their seat belt, I don't know what could.

  4. Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety Program ManagerOctober 9, 2018 at 12:49 PM

    Thank you Ray for sharing your story. Seat belts do save lives and get plenty of rest before your next trip.