Drowsy Driving Comparable to Driving Under The Influence

by Lisa on March 12, 2015

Drowsy driving, once considered a fairly benign issue, finds itself under target with an increase in legislation making the offense either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on specific state law. The Drowsy Driving Reduction Act of 2015 creates a task force to analyze the issue and make recommendations for federal regulation within 18 months.

Is drowsy driving really such a problem? The National Sleep Foundation believes it is a very serious issue. As sponsors of the Drowsy Driving Reduction Act of 2015, the Foundation believes that cognitive impairment after 18 hours awake is similar to that of someone with a .05% blood alcohol level. Drowsy driving is attributed to over 100,000 vehicular accidents annually.

One of the aims of The Drowsy Driving Reduction Act is to create a comprehensive and more uniform approach to the drowsy driving problem. State approaches to the problem vary widely. For example, Utah has placed additional warning signs on roads they have identified to have frequent wrecks caused by drowsy driving while California enacted a “Drowsy Driver Awareness Day”. New Jersey now considers a driver driving without sleep for 24 hours to be driving recklessly, in the same class as an intoxicated driver. The National Institute for State Legislation provides a complete list of state legislation over the last few years.

The National Sleep Foundation wants to make the public more aware of the dangers of drunk driving and provide pointers on how to recognize drowsy driving. The Institute provides the following pointers on their website drowsydriving.org.

Drowsy Driving Warning Signs

  • Yawning, rubbing your eyes, or blinking frequently
  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven
  • Drifting from your lane or hitting the rumble strip
  • Slower reaction time, poor judgment

Drowsy Driving Prevention Tips

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Plan to drive long trips with a friend or companion
  • Schedule regular stops
  • Avoid alcohol and medications
  • Consult your physician
  • Take a nap; if you feel fatigued, find a safe place to pull over and take a 15-20 minute nap

One thing is sure, with so much attention being placed on drowsy driving at both a state and national level, the likelihood of encountering questions on the DMV written exam is high. For those studying for the exam, be aware of the issue and be prepared to recognize both warning signs and common sense precautions. To test your knowledge before taking the DMV written exam, visit DMVCheatSheets.com.

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