Its been a long week at work.
You have been staying late getting ready for a big project due at the end of the month. When you drive home you’re tired. Exhausted.
All you want to do is get home and to bed.
Recently, I read an article about NHTSA calling for a “crackdown” on drowsy driving. Mark Rosekind, the head of NHTSA, cited several studies that show around 2-3% of injuries and fatalities in accidents were caused by drowsy drivers. (see the full article here)
Several states including New York, New Jersey, Arkansas, and even neighboring Tennessee have passed laws against drowsy driving. Most make the offense a misdemeanor similar to DUI. New York which include the city that never sleeps, has gone as far as introducing a bill in 2012 that would make vehicular homicide while driving drowsy a felony.
From a legal standpoint, I see some big issues with a a law attempting to regulate drowsy driving. My main concern is that currently there is now reliable scientific test to determine the drowsiness of a driver. The article mentioned several factors that are often present including:
- A serious crash
- On a high speed road
- Single driver
- Failure to attempt to avoid a crash
- Occurring late at night, early in the morning, or mid-afternoon
If you want more information about drowsy driving click here.
I agree with attempting to make the roadways of America as safe as possible. However, passing laws like this without any reliable method of measuring drowsiness and with only a lose set of factors that may have other explanations is leaving room for abuse by government and political officials. Drowsy driving has some of the same indicators as DUI. If you are driving tired the police may mistakenly arrest you and accuse you of driving under the influence even if you are sober.
This “crackdown” on drowsy driving may be the first attempt to politicize this topic but it probably won’t be the last.