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Why drowsy driving may be dangerous during the fall

While the summer driving season has officially ended, football season across Wisconsin keeps drivers on the road during fall weekends. At this time of year, law enforcement officers are undoubtedly looking to keep drunk drivers off the road because of the hazard to the general public. However, it is worth wondering if the same attention is paid to drowsy drivers.

After all, it is reasonable to assume that drowsy drivers are equally as dangerous to the driving public as drunk drivers.  This is ostensibly why there are federal hours of service regulations that limit the number of time that commercial truck drivers can be behind the wheel. But since these rules do not apply to non-commercial drivers, the potential for accidents involving sleepy drivers is worth paying attention to. 

According to information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 100,000 crashes each year are attributable to drowsy driving. These crashes have resulted in more than 1,500 injuries and 71 deaths.

In fact, drowsy driving could impair a driver’s abilities in the same way that alcohol can. A driver awake for 17 hours may be impaired in the same manner as one with a .05 BAC. A driver who goes without sleep for 24 hours may have the same impairment as one with a .10 BAC. So while drowsy driving, by itself, may not be illegal, it certainly has its dangers.

As such, drivers must use reasonable care while behind the wheel by making sure that they get plenty of rest. Failing to do so could result in civil liability. 

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