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A wake-up call to protect Michigan from drowsy driving

March 10, 2017 by Steven M. Gursten

It’s one of the most dangerous and overlooked threats to Michigan drivers today. Yet there’s currently no law here to deter drowsy driving. Let’s change that!

Drowsy Driving Petition

We know that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion. But what happens when that body is craving rest and is behind the wheel of a 6,000-pound vehicle — or an 80,000-pound truck for that matter — that’s in motion? The result tends to be deadly. Other states are starting to address the dangers posed to the public by drowsy driving.  But Michigan doesn’t have any laws that target drowsy driving.

At Michigan Auto Law, we want to change that. We are pledging to begin the change that is needed to prevent thousands of car accidents every year due to drowsy driving. We are beginning the process by setting up a petition for Michigan to enact a “Drowsy Driving Law.” And by adding your signature, you can help make a difference.

Drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving

The national numbers for behind-the-wheel drowsiness are frightening:

  • Drowsy drivers are involved in 21% of all fatal crashes in the U.S. Additionally, 328,000 reported crashes each year involve a drowsy driver, according to the AAA foundation.
  • Research we’ve gathered from the Occupational & Environmental Medicine Group shows the impairment level of a driver who has gone for 17-19 hours without sleep is “equivalent or worse than” the impairment level for a driver with a B.A.C. of 0.05%!
  • The AAA foundation also found that drowsy drivers are five times more likely to get in an accident than other drivers.

Drowsy driving laws will save lives and prevent automobile accidents

When considering how we could implement a drowsy driving law, we can look to the legislation that has already been enacted to stop texting and driving.

As drivers and lawmakers became more aware of the dangers of texting while driving, the Michigan Legislature put into law a ban and punish texting while driving. In Michigan, this law is MCL 257.602b.

In focusing on drowsy driving, we can look to the states who are leaders in this area and who have already passed laws. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ “Summaries of Current Drowsy Driving Laws,” there are only two states that have passed safety laws that specifically address “drowsy driving.”


Arkansas amended its “Negligent Homicide” statute (Arkansas Code 5-10-105(a)(1)(D) and (c)(1) in April 2013 to provide:

“A person commits negligent homicide if he or she negligently causes the death of another person, not constituting murder or manslaughter, as a result of operating a vehicle … [w]hile fatigued …”

“‘Fatigued’ means: (A) Having been without sleep for a period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours; or (B) Having been without sleep for a period of twenty-four (24) consecutive hours and in the state of being asleep …”

New Jersey

A driver that has been without sleep for 24 hours is considered to be driving recklessly, in the same class as an intoxicated driver. (New Jersey Statutes §2C:11-5)

With our public safety campaign, Michigan can become a safer place to drive. With your support, we can get there.

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