Georgia Family Pushing for Tougher Laws on Drowsy Driving
TROUP COUNTY, GA. – According to an online news story from daytondailynews.com, a family in Georgia is pushing for tougher laws in the state on drowsy driving, after losing a relative to a drowsy driving crash.*
In 2017, 53-year-old Patricia Sams, of Troup County, Georgia, was driving on West Point Road in Lagrange, Georgia, when a vehicle crashed into hers head-on. Sams died at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle admitted to falling asleep at the wheel and was charged with second-degree vehicular homicide, which is a misdemeanor and carries no jail time in Georgia.
Sams’s family was shocked to learn that the driver responsible for the crash would not see a day in jail, but Georgia is not alone in its categorization of drowsy driving crashes. Only two states in the U.S. — New Jersey and Arkansas — have laws that make drowsy driving a felony. The problem is not a lack of information about the dangers of drowsy driving but an inability to test for it.
Studies show a person who has not received adequate sleep is just as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver. Even losing an hour or two in one night can affect someone’s ability to drive safely. However, unlike drunk driving, police cannot test for fatigue. New Jersey and Arkansas define drowsy driving as someone going without sleep for more than 24 hours. Absent someone admitting to that, it is almost impossible to know.
Still, it is clear that drowsy driving is a real problem in Georgia and in the United States. So far in 2018, the Georgia State Patrol has responded to 1,148 crashes involving a driver who fell asleep. In 2017, that number was 1,325. Nationwide, 6,400 drowsy driving crashes occur annually on average, according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
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