In the 1980’s, drunk driving became a national safety issue and a number of social campaigns were created to change the culture of drinking and driving. In the past few years, distracted driving has garnered the same national attention, and legislatures around the nation passed laws banning texting while driving (or in some cases) talking on a cell phone while behind the wheel.
It remains to be seen whether legislatures will take the same stance against drowsy driving. Indeed, federal law prohibits drivers of commercial vehicles (e.g. tractor trailers and buses) from driving more than a set number of hours per day. However, there presumably are scores of tired drivers on Virginia roads at any given time of day.
Moreover, a recent study indicated that the fewer hours a driver sleeps, the more likely he or she will be drowsy behind the wheel. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perleman School of Medicine found that people who sleep six hours per night are twice as likely to drive drowsy compared to those who sleep seven hours per night or more. Those who sleep five hours per night (or fewer) are four times as likely to have episodes of microsleep while driving.
The danger of drowsy driving may not seem obvious, especially when many drivers rely on coffee and energy drinks to keep them awake. However, sleepy drivers pose a real danger to the driving public for the may fall asleep behind the wheel without even knowing it. Moreover, a driver who is found to be sleep deprived may be held liable for the injuries and damages stemming from an accident.
Source: ClaimsJournal.com, Short sleepers most likely to be drowsy drivers, October 2, 2013