usair1489
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You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 6:02 am

Yet another strange law coming out of the McGreevy administration...


N.J. Criminalizes Driving While Tired
Mon Sep 29, 4:37 PM ET
By JOHN P. McALPIN, Associated Press Writer

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=12&u=/ap/20030929/ap_on_re_us/drowsy_drivers_2

BORDENTOWN, N.J. - As if staying alive were not enough of an incentive, motorists in New Jersey have another reason to make sure they are well-rested when they get behind the wheel — a first-in-the-nation law against driving while drowsy.

Under Maggie's Law, police will not be pulling over drivers whose eyelids look heavy. But the law allows prosecutors to charge a motorist with vehicular homicide, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine, in the event of a deadly crash if there is evidence the accident was caused by sleepiness.

No driver has yet been charged under the law, which went into effect last month and was named for a 20-year-old college student killed in 1997 by a van driver who admitted having been up for 30 hours.

Recent studies estimate 51 percent of motorists feel drowsy behind the wheel, and about two of every 10 drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving in the past year.

"We are so accustomed to being fatigued and tired and sleepy that it's part of our daily life and we think nothing of getting behind the wheel and driving despite the horrible ramifications of that act," said Marcia Stein of the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research organization.

New Jersey is the first state to specifically list going without sleep as a crime, according to Darrel Drobnich, a legislative analyst for the foundation. Similar bills are pending in New York and have been discussed by lawmakers in Washington state.

Prosecutors across the nation already target drivers whose inability to stay awake cost lives.

In May, the driver of a tour bus taking church groups home from Niagara Falls was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He admitted gambling and skipping sleep before a crash that killed five people on the New York State Thruway outside Rochester.

In 1997, a Virginia judge sentenced a driver to five years in prison because he fell asleep on his morning commute, killing two people, and then headed to a business meeting.

Federal regulations allow authorities to charge truck drivers under rules that mandate no more than 10 straight hours of driving, followed by an eight-hour break.

Myrna Buiser took a break from driving recently, pausing at a truck stop near the New Jersey Turnpike in Bordentown outside Philadelphia. It was a long way from where she started in Massachusetts, and even farther from her home in Denver.

"I drive tired probably quite often," Buiser said, explaining that her job as a nursing consultant requires exhausting road trips. "If I'm traveling across country a lot and through times zones, I'm always quite sleepy."

Like other drivers, Buiser said she appreciated New Jersey's attempt to keep motorists alert and save lives but is not sure the law will keep people from driving when tired.

"I think that you would need to get people thinking all the time about the dangers of doing this," she said. "I would hope it helps, but I don't know if people are just going to do anything until they get arrested themselves."

Safety advocates expect the New Jersey law will lead prosecutors to consider sleep deprivation when investigating accidents and will push other states to crack down on sleepy driving the way many did against drunken driving two decades ago.

Still, they acknowledged that laws alone will not solve the problem.

Judie Stone, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said: "It's always very difficult to change people's behavior just by passing a law. You have to educate people. Then you have to enforce the law."


This should be interesting... since most of the driving I do to and from airshow sites is while I'm barely awake.
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EGGD
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 6:04 am

I think its a good law, being sleepy at the wheel should be as punishable as careless driving or DUI..
 
Superfly
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 6:06 am

Studies have shown that when tired, your response rate is the same as one who is drunk.

I think this is a good law.
Bring back the Concorde
 
goingboeing
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 6:37 am

Good law - maybe. But it really reveals the lack of common sense in the population that it has to be codified. Odd thing is, several years ago when I lived in Dallas, a friend of mine was driving home from Austin and felt very tired. RAther than risk his own life and the life of someone else, he pulled into a rest area and fell asleep. He was awakened by an officer pounding on his window and was arrested for "vagrancy". Guess it's better to drive drowsy.
 
Superfly
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 6:42 am

Goingboeing:
He was awakened by an officer pounding on his window and was arrested for "vagrancy".

Are you serious?!  Wow!
That is just awful!
And these are the people that's to serve and protect us.
What a shame!

I take long road trips by myself sometimes. When I get tired, I'll pull off to a rest area and sleep in my back seat. No need to waste $35 or more on a hotel room that I'll only be in for 4 or 5 hours.
Bring back the Concorde
 
goingboeing
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:04 am

Superfly, take this for what it's worth...my friend was black and it was Texas. I couldn't believe it, and I had to wonder if it would have been the same if he were white.
 
nonrevman
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:32 am

What do we do with the people who work 3rd shift, or the people whose flight got it real late?
 
JAL777
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Wed Oct 01, 2003 9:12 pm

It's a great law... to bad it doesn't apply for Governor McCreepy's cronies!

http://www.wnbc.com/education/2491104/detail.html

It wasn't the alcohol... I was tired? TIRED? Isn't that the same law that was just passed 2 weeks ago????
 
sccutler
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Thu Oct 02, 2003 4:50 am

Superfly, take this for what it's worth...my friend was black and it was Texas. I couldn't believe it, and I had to wonder if it would have been the same if he were white.

"What it is worth" is bupkus. The Texas DPS (State Police) is a very professionally run organization; in my experience and from my observations as both a citizen and a lawyer, they would not use race as a factor in any such action.

Certainly, I have never been treated poorly by black DPS troopers when they pulled *me* over.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
goingboeing
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Thu Oct 02, 2003 4:58 am

Here's "what it is worth" scuttler - this happened around 1979. Things do change, but one has to wonder if someone pulled over in small town Texas today, and they happened to be black, there is a better chance that they will be hassled than you would. Also, it wasn't DPS - it was the Balch Springs Police Department.
 
ybacpa
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Thu Oct 02, 2003 5:20 am

two of every 10 drivers say they have fallen asleep while driving

As much as I tend to agree with the intent of the law, a statement like this one makes me seriously question the validity of the statistics. It can't be possible that hundreds of thousands of drivers fall asleep every year behind the wheel in NJ. I sure hope the law wasn't passed based on scientifically inaccurate information.
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STT757
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Thu Oct 02, 2003 5:58 am

Driving while sleepy is a real dangerous problem, a friend of mine from High school died Senior year when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his pick up truck which crashed into a tree less than a mile from his house in Colts Neck New Jersey.

I had seen him that night at Romeos Pizza shortly before he died, he had helped push my Camaro (which broke down) across the road to the Texaco station. Strong guy, wrestled.

Really sad, I can't believe it's been 9 years this Autum.
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Superfly
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Thu Oct 02, 2003 6:11 am

Goingboeing:
Wow that's really sad.
I am sure race had a lot to do with that. For a White person to get that sort of treatment, they would have to be a real obvious vagrant.
Racial harassment by police and selective enforcement of the law happens in all 50 states.


Bring back the Concorde
 
SophieMaltese
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Sun Oct 05, 2003 1:08 pm

I heard about a study that found that you are more dangerous being sleepy when driving than drunk (I'm sure at a certain level of drunk at least). All that being said, I do it all the time. Why? Well, what the hell are you supposed to do? when i was in school I was constantly too tired. It's not like I had a chauffer. after being at work and school all day I had to get home.
 
cptkrell
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Sun Oct 05, 2003 10:38 pm

Somehow I missed this topic at its' start, so here's my late .02 worth. If a driver is responsible for a crash, irrespective of the degree of property damages, injuries, deaths, etc., is not that driver already guilty of breaking a law? I can understand DUI laws, but failing to keep control of your vehicle under any other circimstances is already punishable, no? Perhaps this is just a (politically) "feel good" law or simply a "danger awareness" campaign? Will all drivers need now to keep a driving log in their vehicles such as mandated for commercial license holders? WTF?

To add to the conversation, there was a piece on (I think) Olberman's "Countdown" show this past week about being charged with DUI even if you've already pulled off the road to sleep it off. Many years ago I found myself in a similar situation, but the local police officer was polite and offered, without citation, Michigan's policy. If you are asleep and behind the wheel with the ignition keys installed, you are still deemed in immediate control of the vehicle. Simply place yourself or the keys in the back seat (kinda hard to do in a Pantera), OR, place the keys in the glove compartment (not your pocket) so that conscious, or semi-conscious as the case may be, effort must be used to "legally" be the driver....jack
all best; jack
 
racko
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Sun Oct 05, 2003 11:12 pm

BMW is currently developing a technology which checks how often the driver closes his eye-lids and how long. If the system detects that the driver is too tired, it displays a visual warning. Seems very sensible to me, because drivers often don't realize how tired they are.
 
jwenting
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Tue Oct 07, 2003 3:05 pm

There's already a law banning truckers and bus drivers driving more than X hours out of every 24 and prescribing forced restperiods.

What's the need for more regulation? Let's first enforce the existing one...
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gkirk
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Tue Oct 07, 2003 6:50 pm

If you fall asleep at the wheel of your car and it crashes into another car in the UK, and someone else is killed, you can get done for manslaughter (or is it murder?)
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bobrayner
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RE: You Can't Drive While Sleepy Law?

Tue Oct 07, 2003 7:20 pm

In the UK, you would probably be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

Other possibilities:
Manslaughter;
Causing death by dangerous driving when under the influence of drink or drugs;
Aggravated vehicle-taking where death results.

Lacking a fatality, you get such exotica as:
Dangerous driving;
Reckless driving;
Driving without due care and attention;
Wanton driving;
Driving while unfit.
Cunning linguist

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