Proposal would punish sleepy drivers
February 11, 2007 9:00pm CST
Proposal would punish sleepy drivers By Dan Wiessner Journal Albany bureau ALBANY — Need to yawn when you’re behind the wheel? If a bill introduced at the Capitol this week becomes law, you might want to stifle it. A Queens lawmaker wants the state to create a new crime: driving while drowsy. Those found guilty would face fines and license suspension. “If a person involved in an accident has been without sleep for 24 hours, then the presumption (would be) that drowsiness caused the accident,” said bill sponsor Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, D-Queens. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37 percent of drivers admit to having fallen asleep while driving. The result is 71,000 injuries and 1,500 deaths in the U.S. every year, according to the group. In New York, 1 percent of all crashes and 3 percent of fatal crashes are due to fatigue, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. However, the DMV noted that the numbers could actually be higher since fatigue is difficult to detect. Fines start at $500 The penalty for a first offense would be a maximum fine of $500. Subsequent offenses would result in fines of up to $1,000 and a six-month license suspension. Stavisky said while police may have a hard time detecting fatigue, there are certain telltale signs. These include repeated yawning, lack of focus and difficulty keeping eyes open. According to the DMV, those who run the highest risk of falling asleep at the wheel are 16-24 year-olds, seniors, truck drivers, and shift workers. But to Stavisky, anyone could potentially doze off behind the wheel — even her colleagues. “Look at the legislators. Sometimes we’re up all night in a session, and then we get in our cars and drive home,” she said. The DMV recommends drivers take frequent breaks on long trips, alternate driving with a passenger, and drink coffee to promote short-term alertness. “We tend to focus on things such as drunk driving, but I think this is as serious if not more so,” said Tom Donohue of the New York Medical Society. The bill was first introduced two years ago, but it has never made it to the floor of the Senate or Assembly for a vote. It was not immediately clear whether it will fare any better this year. Assemblywoman Ellen Young, D-Queens, sponsored it this year in her chamber. http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070211/NEWS01/70211006/1006/RSS01 Vermont want to ban eating and drinking while driving - I find these things help me stay alert while driving. What is a driver to do.
• United States
12 Feb 07
This will be a problem if it ever goes through. Our lives are bombarded by things that need to be done and many push themselves far. How will they test for this, I wonder. If we have a hard job will we be able to drive home? This is so ambiguous that it should never be voted on.
• United States
13 Feb 07
I agree, I am just starting on a job...12 hour shifts sat, sunday, Mon, tues. OT would be on wed,thursday, friday. I wonder what I will be like on day 4 - Working 6 PM = 6:30 A. Figuring 2 hours a day for commuting. A bit of time to relax, and walking the dogs twice a day...I will be definitely exhausted on that Tuesday morning heading home.
• United States
17 Feb 07
I think whoever coughed that proposal up must have been half asleep. Hopefully, this will be shot down, or what needs to be done is to fill the chambers with some kind of sleepy gas everytime these lawmakers meet, & have them get fined on the way home from meetings.