Ana Burkhardt

Ana Burkhardt, left, poses with family next to a sign memorializing her mother. The sign is located near the intersection of Smith Prairie Road and North 161st Way.

The daughter of a Yelm woman killed in a 2012 car accident is making it her mission to spread her knowledge of the dangers of drowsy driving.

Ana Burkhardt, 35, is hoping to spread awareness and the risks posed from falling asleep at the wheel this week, Drowsy Driving Prevention Week.

Burkhardt lost her mother to a drowsy driver in December 2012. The accident occurred near the intersection of Smith Prairie Road and North 161st Way in the Bald Hills area. 

Her mother, Linda Burkhardt, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and Hospital where she passed shortly after the incident. The drowsy driver walked away with injuries and a fine, Burhardt said. 

She said it was an event that had a lasting impact on her and her family.

“In the blink of an eye, things can be taken from you,” Burkhardt said. 

Shortly after her death, Burhardt started a Facebook page, entitled “In loving memory of Linda Burkhardt,” which she has recently kept updated with national studies and local accidents related to drowsy driving.

Burkhardt said awareness was what motivated her to start this small awareness campaign. She made a small presentation at the Washington State Fair this year and noted the unfamiliarity people had with the subject. 

“I had one lady come up to me. She told me that she didn’t know about the dangers until she saw (my) poster,” Burkhardt said. “That’s what got me more into this than in the beginning.”

Since then, Burkhardt said she’s bought custom pens with the message “Don’t drive drowsy. In Loving Memory of Linda Burkhardt” decalled on them. These pens are free to the public, and Burkhardt said she’ll even deliver or mail them to any persons interested. 

“If I buy more, I buy more,” she said. Her local post office has even let her distribute pens at their location. 

Burkhardt said since she’s begun her campaign to end drowsy driving, families impacted by similar tragedies have reached out to her for support. Together, she said, they’re trying to further the message of how dangerous falling asleep behind the wheel can be.

In the future, Burkhardt said she hopes drowsy driving awareness becomes as prominent as some drunk driving or texting-and-driving campaigns have become. 

“Everybody drives drowsy. All I’m trying to do is let them know that, in the back of their minds, this happens,” she said.

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