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Alabama mother seeks legislative support for drowsy driving bill

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a person who has been awake for 18 hours has the same level of mental impairment as a person with a .05 percent blood alcohol content. At 24 hours awake, the impairment correlates to a .10 percent BAC. The ability to process information and react is significantly affected at this level of impairment. In spite of the dangers, there is currently no law against drowsy driving in Alabama.

In other states, such as Arkansas, there are fatigued driving laws penalizing those who cause a fatality after being awake for 24 hours in a row. Arkansas’ law lists this type of accident as a negligent homicide with a penalty that consists of jail time and a fine up to $25,000. The mother of a young Alabama man who died in a drowsy driving crash nine years ago is attempting to bring attention to the dangers of driving while fatigued and raise support for similar legislation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than one thousand people die in fatigue-related crashes each year, with tens of thousands more injured. Neither the woman’s efforts nor these statistics have been enough to prompt one of the state’s legislators to sponsor a bill during the past two regular meetings of the Alabama legislature.

One in three traffic fatalities are caused by a drunk driver, and one in six by a drowsy driver. The NSF provides a Drowsy Driving Advocacy Kit for those who want to join the efforts to promote legislation that helps to reduce the dangers that drowsy drivers pose to everyone on the road. If you have been injured in a fatigue-related accident, an attorney may be able to assist you in determining if you are entitled to compensation.

Source: Andalusia Star News, “Faulkner: I’m never giving up on this,” by Kendra Majors, Aug. 6, 2015

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