Drowsy driving, though perhaps less of a pressing issue in terms of highway safety than drunk driving and distracted driving, is still an important issue to address in making our roadways safer. Federal law already addressees the issue as it pertains to commercial vehicle drivers in hours of service regulations. These are the rules which govern the length of truckers’ work days and work weeks, as well as the frequency and length of rest breaks.
In terms of laws addressing drowsy driving in general, states have taken different approaches. Some states don’t address the issue at all, while others allow for criminal prosecution. In Florida, the Ronshay Dugans Act simply established an awareness campaign on the issue of drowsy driving. Greater awareness of the issue is important, but more needs to be done to really address the issue.
Recognizing the patchwork approach to the issue of drowsy driving, the National Sleep Foundation recently proposed the Drowsy Driving Reduction Act of 2015 to lawmakers in the House and Senate. The legislation, if passed, would establish a task force which would study the issue of drowsy driving in each state, particularly its prevalence, current laws addressing it, and how those laws are enforced. Based on these investigations, appropriate recommendations would be made to help improve the situation.
Sources didn’t provide any indication of how much support the measure is expected to gain, but it isn’t unlikely that it would take some serious efforts to get something like it in place. What is important, from the perspective of a personal injury attorney, is that individuals who are harmed in a motor vehicle accident by the negligence of a drowsy driver have the opportunity to seek adequate compensation. Addressing the problem on a broader scale is also important, though, and hopefully the time will come when the issue is addressed from all available angles.
Sources: Sleep Review, “Drowsy Driving Reduction Act Aims to Reduce Dangers on the Road,” September 10, 2014.
National Conference of State Legislatures, “Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws,” Accessed October 1, 2014.