Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has long been a safety argument among state and federal courts. The illegal act of driving while impaired in some fashion has been shown to result in hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Organizations like MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving – release annual statistics and precautionary measures to encourage people not to drive unless they are legally capable of doing so.

How to Solve the Drowsy Driving Problem

It’s simple to draft up a solution to prevent people from driving under the influence. If you drink alcohol or consume drugs irresponsibly, you simply should avoid driving as a way to protect yourself and others from the danger that your are. New research suggests that every year, thousands of people are killed as a result of driving drowsy. Sleep deprivation has severe effects on performance, making it a different kind of impaired driving. Experts suggest that staying awake for 24 hours straight is equivalent to being legally drunk with a blood alcohol content of .08%.

Despite the fact that the American Automobile Association suggests nearly 300,000 car crashes every year are linked to drowsy driving, only two states in the nation have laws in place to enforce punishment against it. “Maggie’s Law,” was passed in 2003 making New Jersey drivers who kill someone in a car accident after not sleeping for 24 hours, subject to be charged with vehicular homicide.

The law was put into place after Maggie McDonnell was killed in a 1997 car crash by a driver who, as a result of smoking crack, had not slept in 30 hours. The driver got off with a $200 fine because the jury could not consider the driver’s drowsiness as a factor of guilt. Since the law was passed in 2003, only one person has been prosecuted because in order to enforce the law, the driver must admit sleeplessness in court, and there is not yet a test to determine whether or not someone is sleep deprived.

The United States has multiple laws and alternatives in place to combat drunk driving or driving while influenced. Drowsy driving is also a recipe for an impaired driver, but because of the difficulty in proving sleep deprivation, many states are doing nothing about this lethal impairment. The problem currently lacks strong public and legislative advocates, and awareness, making it a problem that is being overlooked.