The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 1,500 deaths and 100,000 accidents each year are caused by tired drivers. People have equated sleepy drivers to be just as dangerous as drunk drivers because “[t]hey have trouble keeping their car between the lines. Speed will vary.” The moments before the driver falls asleep are still treacherous. In fact, if you nod off for three seconds going 70 miles per hour you essentially drive the distance of a football field with closed eyes. Sleepy drivers compare to a drunk driver with a blood alcohol level twice over the legal limit.
Currently, New Jersey is the only state with laws in place to reduce or stop drivers from driving when they are tired. Maggies’s Law allows for a tired driver to count as a reckless driver, which means they can be charged for vehicular homicide. The law makes fatigued drivers eligible to be charged with a criminal defense, and the law defines fatigue as not having sleep for 24 consecutive hours.
There are some solutions to remedying this problem such as strips or ruts in the road that make noise when drivers cross over them and computerized lane departure warning systems. Engineers are even working on a gadget that will have an alarm go off after following a driver’s eyes and facial muscles to identify fatigue. After a couple of scary accidents on Ohio freeways, Ohio police officers are cracking down by passing out more tickets for drivers that sway over the freeway lanes. Last summer, the driver of a truck pulling three trailers fell asleep and rear ended the car in front of him. The impact killed the driver, and critically inured her two sons also in the vehicle. Also in Ohio, a truck carrying hydrochloric acid overturned and caused 20 nearby homes to be evacuated.
Next time you are feeling woozy remember that sleepy drivers are just as dangerous as drunk drivers and think twice before you risk injuring yourself and others.