Drowsy Driving & Driver Fatigue are as Dangerous as Drunk Driving New Jersey
Frequently, people involved in motor vehicle accidents involving drowsy drivers require medical treatment which may prevent them from working and providing for their families.
According to the CDC, operating a motor vehicle while fatigued or sleepy is commonly referred to as “drowsy driving.” Only two states, New Jersey and Arkansas have laws that address sleep-deprived motorists who injure or kill someone. New Jersey’s “Maggie’s Law” allows a person who has caused a fatal crash and driven without sleeping for more than 24 consecutive hours to be charged with vehicular homicide. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 25% of Americans do not get enough sleep and the resulting drowsy driving, driver fatigue, or being tired while driving, is responsible for more than 6,400 U.S. deaths annually. In addition, the neurobehavioral performance, impaired judgment, and decision-making ability from sleep loss are often said to be comparable to a drunk driving blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 g/dL. Interestingly enough, instead of these unfit, sleep-deprived, and careless motorists driving slower, they often overestimate their ability, speed, and commit more driving errors.
In seeking treatment these often people incur significant medical and out of pocket expenses. If you or someone close to you suffered an accident injury or are facing life-changing criminal penalties as a result of fatigue driving, it is recommended you consult an experienced accident attorney who can explain your rights, and help you understand your legal options.
Adverse Health Effects Fatigue and Not Getting Enough Sleep
Fatigue has costly effects on the safety, health, and quality of life for all Americans on the road – bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike. Regardless if fatigue or sleep loss is caused by a new baby, a road-trip, a late or long shift at work, or a night out with friends – the negative outcomes of impaired cognition and performance, motor vehicle crashes, workplace accidents, and health consequences are the same, especially if they result in a personal injury accident or a wrongful death.
According to AAA, the only antidote for drowsiness is sleep, as one’s body’s need for sleep will eventually override the brain’s attempts to stay awake. Common short term tactics such as rolling down the window, drinking coffee, or singing will not work, so traveling at a time you’re normally awake and avoiding heavy foods and medications that may impair you or cause drowsiness should be avoided. Besides scheduling breaks and traveling with an alert passenger who can share driving responsibilities, AAA suggests not underestimating the power of a quick 20-30 minute nap at a rest stop to help keep you alert on the road.
Typical Causes for Tired or Fatigued Driving
Although various factors can contribute to motorists driving while drowsy or tired, and certain drivers may be more at risk (i.e., ride-sharing service providers, commercial drivers, business travelers, young drivers, etc) here some of the most common causes:
- amount of time a driver has been on the road
- time of day when one is traveling
- inadequate rest or sleep loss
- untreated sleep disorders
- medication that causes drowsiness
Top Warning Signs You May Be Driving Drowsy or Experiencing Driver Fatigue
- having difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused?
- constantly rubbing your eyes or yawning frequently?
- unable to keep your head up?
- finding yourself daydreaming or having wandering and disconnected thoughts?
- driving over rumble strips (i.e., alert strips or sleeper lines)?
- drifting from your lane or onto the shoulder of the road, or tailgating other drivers?
Can a Drowsy or Tired New Jersey Driver Face DUI Charges?
Under Maggie’s Law or N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, sleep-deprived drivers and drivers who knowingly operate a motor vehicle while fatigued and cause a fatal accident is considered reckless drivers and can be charged with vehicular homicide. This 2003 New Jersey law was enacted as a result of the tragic 1997 death of Maggie McDonnell by a driver who went 30 hours without sleep, swerved across three lanes, and hit her car.
Because the public has an expectation of safety on New Jersey roads, prosecutors take reckless driving charges very seriously and in many cases will seek jail time for the offender. Don’t let one mistake ruin the rest of your life.
Contact Cohen & Riechelson (CR) now to discuss your reckless driving charges and begin your defense.
CR has a proven track record of success in handling reckless driving cases in Mercer County, NJ, including Trenton, Princeton, and Ewing. We understand how important it is for you to maintain your driving privileges. We also recognize that your freedom and future job opportunities could be at stake if you are convicted. That’s why our traffic defense team will fight for you in the courtroom and make sure that you avoid the most serious penalties.
Contact the NJ & PA Drowsy Driving & Accident Injury Lawyers at CR for Assistance
At Cohen & Riechelson, our attorneys are focused on providing constructive and effective legal solutions for clients across New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Hiring the right attorney can make all the difference in the world. One of our knowledgeable attorneys will be happy to answer your questions and advise you on the most effective legal options available in your case.