Driving While Drowsy

The Law and You

According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving was is the cause of over 100,000 crashes per year, on average. These crashes leave 71,000 people injured and 1,500 dead.

What many people fail to realize is that lack of deep, restful sleep can impair the human brain as much as alcohol. Driving while drowsy can result in erratic behavior behind the wheel, including over-correcting and following too close to other vehicles, which in turn can lead to accidents with serious injuries or death.

With an increased awareness on the danger of drowsy driving, many legislatures have crafted laws to address the rising number of accidents. In many states, the act of “drowsy driving” is treated like a DUI when it comes to filing charges. In 2011, Oregon was one of the first states to come forward and attempt to pass laws on drowsy driving. Unfortunately, the bill did not pass.

In the event of an accident caused by a drowsy driver, the injured party does have the legal right to bring a civil case against the driver for negligence. Like any other civil case, the party at-fault can be held liable and required to pay for medical bills, lost wages and emotional distress caused by drowsy driving.

As always, be as alert as possible while on the road. If you feel tired or sluggish, take a short nap to freshen up. Don’t put yourself or others at risk with drowsy driving.