New Jersey has categorized drowsy driving, or driving while without sleep for a period of 24 hours, to be the legal equivalent of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Like drinking, sleep deprivation causes cognitive and reflexive impairment that affects the ability to drive safely. Current modifications in the state legislature dovetails with the 2003 passage of “Maggie’s Law,” New Jersey’s initiative making a fatal accident caused by an overtired driver vehicular homicide.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy drivers cause 100,000 traffic accidents annually. New Jersey’s approach is part of a national trend in legislature to criminalize drowsy driving.
In addition to the nationwide legislative crackdown on drowsy driving, here are a few ways in which auto manufacturers and highway safety organizations are attempting to keep drivers awake on the roads:
Rumble strips – Studies show that when a driver rides over a rumble strip, his or her alertness is increased significantly for about five minutes. This may prevent some drowsy driving accidents, but it is not a wide-reaching solution. Driver Attention Warning Systems – An innovative system now used by SAAB, this onboard gadget directs an infrared camera to monitor blinking and other eye movement, thereby detecting drowsiness. Attention Assist Systems – This system by Mercedes monitors a series of driving behaviors, mostly steering patterns that determine driver alertness.
There is no evidence that any of these measures has any real affect on drowsy driving. It still remains the responsibility of the driver to know if he or she is too tired to drive. When a drowsy driver causes an auto accident, the driver is negligent and may be held liable for damages to anyone injured.
If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a drowsy driver, you are entitled to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages and damage to your vehicle. For more information on auto accidents, call the Morristown, NJ firm of Giblin & Combs at 888.829.9040 or contact us online.