There's an unspoken downside to living in a caffeinated society. Sometimes, drivers may fall asleep behind the wheel. Indeed, most tired drivers make it to their destinations safely. Others take the time to get off the road for that much needed nap. Unfortunately, some drivers cause car accidents and leave tragedy in their wake.
According to a recent Associated Press report, more than 11,000 people have been killed in car accidents attributable to drowsy driving, and countless others have been injured.
Unlike drunk driving (or driving under the influence of drugs) drowsy driving is particularly troublesome to prove. There is no standard to determine how sleepy a driver is when on the road. Moreover, drowsy driving is not easy to quantify because different drivers have differening reaction times when fatigued.
Nevertheless, the devastation that comes out of these accidents have pushed legislators and law enforcement to do something about drowsy driving. So far, laws have been put in place to limit the number of hours commercial truckers and bus drivers may drive each day (and work each week). While they are the largest vehicles on the road, trucks and buses are essentially the most dangerous, and the public must be protected from tired drivers in this regard.
Ultimately, drivers have a duty to use reasonable care while driving. Part of this duty involves being awake and alert enough to safely operate a motor vehicle. Those who breach this duty (by driving while fatigued) could be held liable for the injuries that may occur.
Source: AP.org, Drowsy driving remains elusive highway dilemma, May 11, 2013