Post-Turkey Naps are for the Couch...NOT Behind the Wheel!

Post-Turkey Naps are for the Couch...NOT Behind the Wheel

By: Kathi Wright | Kyle W. Kiihnl Foundation

“Kyle’s dead.”

Those words are hard to comprehend, even now, so many years after 17-year-old Kyle Kiihnl was killed. Kyle was a junior in high school, a varsity wrestler, a guitar player, and a super-smart kid.  He was a son, a grandson, a brother, a cousin, and a friend.  He was very well-loved.

The May evening was warm and school would soon be out for the summer. What could be the harm in him going for a walk around the block with a friend? His mom didn’t see any harm in his request and expected him to be back home in 15-20 minutes. He never made it home.

Kyle lost his life that night to a young driver with little driving experience.  A teen driver who knew he was very tired but thought the only way to make it home by curfew was to keep driving.  A few minutes from his home, he killed our Kyle. The young driver fell asleep at the wheel and came upon the sidewalk where Kyle and his friend walked ending Kyle’s short life.

Such a tragedy.

Kyle could have been anything.  He was so fun, smart, talented, and kind.  He could have done great things in the world.  He could have made a difference.  

What do teens need to know about drowsy driving?

For one thing, the driver had options that, unfortunately, he was not aware of. Continuing to drive when he knew he was fatigued was not one of them. He could have called his parents and asked them to come to get him.  He could have asked if he could spend the night with the friend he was dropping off. He could have gotten a ride with a friend. To be sure, his parents would much rather have gone and picked him up, than have this story end the way it did. If he had only known he had options.

What do teens need to know about drowsy driving?

Teens need to know that their lack of a healthy amount of sleep directly affects their ability to drive safely. Teens need 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but many fall far short of this. This is the amount of time it takes for your body to refresh, repair, rejuvenate, and recharge.  Sleep is one of the most important things a teen can do to improve their driving ability. A well-rested teen will be better prepared to make good, safe driving decisions. A well-rested teen will not take risks or use poor judgment while driving. 

What do you need to be a better driver, student, friend, athlete, employee?

How about trying to get a healthy amount of sleep which for a teen is 8-10 hours every night.

This weekend will be Thanksgiving weekend. A weekend hundreds of thousands of people normally travel to visit friends and loved ones. You may be traveling home from college for the first time. This year, being far from normal, we may not see such heavy traffic but there are some things both novice and seasoned drivers need to know about long-distance travel.

The Kyle Kiihnl Memorial Foundation recommends:

  • Get a good night’s sleep. 8-10 hours for teens, 7-9 hours for adults. It takes that long to get you ready to be your best.  Don’t skimp on sleep.
  • Avoid driving at times you’re normally asleep. If it’s dark, cool, and quiet, your body may think you’re actually sleeping, not driving.
  • Have a co-pilot. Someone to check on the driver and keep him/her alert and focused on arriving safely.
  • Stop every 60-90 minutes. It is so important to get out of the car and breathe fresh air and move around a little bit. Rest stops are a great place to stop and they are all over TN.  This year, especially, try and plan out your stops beforehand to be sure each rest stop is open. A good way to remember to stop is to keep lots of bottled water in the car. Just drink and drink and drink! Your body will remind you it’s time for a pit stop.
  • If fatigue comes, have a Plan B, Plan C, and a Plan D ready. Do not keep driving, that is not an option. Your plans are not written in stone and it is much, much better to arrive late than not to arrive at all.


We want your time this Thanksgiving to be filled with happy memories.  These memories begin with getting there safely.  Even if you’re only traveling 5 minutes away, please remember that a good night’s sleep is the best way to arrive safely.  And that annoying aunt you always try to avoid? She may just not seem so annoying after a good night’s sleep!

Written By: Anonymous (not verified)