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Is drowsy driving the next drunk or distracted driving?

For decades now, we have been exposed to extensive campaigns targeting different types of dangerous driving. For many years, the main concern was drunk driving. In recent years, the focus has expanded to include distracted driving. 

Now, however, people are looking to address drowsy driving, which reportedly causes 100,000 accidents per year. Efforts to make significant changes and improvements, however, have come up against some troubling obstacles.

To begin with, there is not an easy way to measure drowsiness. Unlike drunk driving, there is no test that can be administered uniformly to see how tired a person is. Instead, we have to largely rely on self-reporting. Unless a driver says to a police officer or admits in court that he or she hadn't slept for 30 hours before driving, it can be all but impossible to determine that in most cases.

Passing laws to prevent drowsy driving have also proven to be a challenge. There are drunk driving laws in every state; in recent years, states have passed various types of distracted driving laws prohibiting texting or using a handheld phone behind the wheel. Drowsy driving, on the other hand, is only addressed in laws in two states. Further, there are many critics who argue that legislation will be largely ineffective due to the challenges of enforcement.

What many people agree on is the fact that drowsy driving is a very real concern that needs to be addressed. Whether this is done through passing laws and/or raising awareness through safety campaigns, making drivers aware of the fact that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk or distracted driving will be essential.

If you suspect drowsy driving was a factor in a recent accident, you should understand your options for taking legal action. That driver may not have broken a law by driving after not sleeping, but if it can be argued that he or she was drowsy or negligent, then you may be eligible to pursue compensation for damages resulting from the accident.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Drowsy Driving Causes 100,000 Accidents A Year. Why Aren't We Doing More To Stop It?" Feb. 29, 2016

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