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Many College Students Don’t Think Drowsy Driving Is Legally Risky

Cranwell & Moore P.L.C. Feb. 14, 2023

A recent study has found that many college students view drowsy driving laws as largely unenforceable.

Drowsy driving is one of the most prevalent threats on the road, but a threat that is notoriously difficult to keep track of or to fight against. The difficulty in cracking down on drowsy driving may be one reason why so many people continue to drive when they are too tired to safely to so. As Reuters reports, a recent study found that many college students view drowsy driving as being not legally risky, at least compared to distracted and drunk driving. In fact, despite the fact that about 10 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are estimated to be due to drowsy driving, many college students are unaware that drowsy driving is even illegal.

Confusion About Drowsy Driving Laws

The University of Maryland study asked four groups of undergraduate students about their driving behaviors, attitudes towards risky driving, and ways to make driving safer. The study focused particularly on attitudes towards drowsy driving.

Although most of the participants viewed themselves as safe drivers, they had troubling views on drowsy driving. Many of the participants viewed laws against drowsy driving as being nearly unenforceable, especially in the absence of a scientific test (like a breathalyzer) to accurately measure when a person is actually tired. In fact, a number of the participants were unaware that driving while drowsy is against the law.

Why Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous

Undoubtedly, drowsy driving laws can be harder to enforce than drunk or distracted driving laws. However, the danger is that if young drivers think there are no consequences for driving while drowsy then they will be more likely to engage in the practice.

Indeed, drowsy driving is a widespread problem. According to CNN, a recent AAA Foundation study found that over 10 percent of accidents that result in serious property damage or injury are at least partially caused by drowsy driving. Furthermore, the AAA also notes that losing just two to three hours of sleep can lead to the same crash risk as those who are driving drunk.

Despite what many people think, there are ways to crack down on the problem of drowsy driving. Massachusetts, for example, introduced penalties for night-time driving for its graduated licensing program in 2007 along with drowsy driver education. Those changes are credited with leading to accidents among drivers aged 16 to 17 falling by 19 percent and by seven percent for drivers aged 18 to 19.

Personal Injury Law

Regardless of the cause, a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic and painful experience. Furthermore, it can lead to numerous financial costs. A personal injury attorney can assist crash victims with pursuing any compensation they may be entitled to, which in turn can help cover the heavy expenses related to an accident.