One often reads about the dangers of distracted driving and driving under the influence, but seldom of another lesser known danger — drowsy driving. A driver who has had too little sleep is a danger on the road. Many Tennessee readers likely recall the truck accident in which comedian Tracy Morgan was seriously injured. Lack of sleep on the part of the driver was ruled the root cause of the accident.
According to a state safety report, driver error due to lack of sleep causes the deaths of thousands of people annually, resulting in costs exceeding $100 billion. If the problem is so large, why is so little attention paid to it? For one, proving driver fatigue is no easy matter, even though it is a common occurrence which most people admit they have experienced at some time or another.
The driving actions of a fatigued driver mirror those of a drunk driver. Anybody who drives after being awake for 18 hours will act very similar to a person with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. Increase that by three hours to 21 hours without sleep, and the actions of the driver will mirror those of someone with a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent. Often, the evidence gathered at an accident scene may give an indication of the state of awareness of the driver at the time of the accident.
While it may be difficult for Tennessee authorities to prove in criminal court that a driver of a car was drowsy, it may be easier in the case of truck drivers, as logbooks should contain the evidence needed. Although Tennessee has no specific drowsy driver criminal charge, legal recourse is still available when driver fatigue causes a truck accident that results in serious injury or death of an innocent victim. Civil claims for personal injury or wrongful death, as appropriate, may be brought in civil court.
Source: khou.com, “Report: Drowsy driving is a sleeper threat in crashes“, Bart Jansen, Aug. 8, 2016