Drowsy driving is impaired driving

Here’s the scary truth: according to the Canada Safety Council, 20% of Canadians have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel, even if just momentarily. Even scarier, according to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation approximately 26% of all fatal and injury crashes are related to fatigued driving.

We spend a lot of time focusing on drunk driving in Canada, but driving tired can be just as bad. In a study done by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 92% of Ontario police officers surveyed said that they had stopped a driver who they thought was impaired only to discover that they were tired instead.  Driving tired and driving impaired can look very similar, yet the repercussions are not the same. Currently there is no charge for tired driving, so if there are no secondary effects (such as negligent driving, zig-zagging, etc.), then all a police officer can do it tell someone to pull over to sleep. Needless to say, a warning isn’t very deterring!

Where’s the stigma?

Driving while fatigued can have serious consequences, yet drowsiness lacks the stigma of driving under the influence. Without a blood level or drink count to measure, or severe laws to make sure people toe the line, it’s hard to create a culture where driving tired is unacceptable. How do we measure how tired someone is? At what point do you tell a friend that it’s not okay for them to drive home? Driving tired may not be as black and white as driving impaired, but if you notice someone losing concentration, yawning, or showing other signs of tiredness, really think about telling them not to drive.

Drowsy driving needs to be taken seriously

In a recent article in the Montreal Gazette, one coroner recommended tougher penalties for tired drivers, and stated they should be just as severe as those issued to drunk drivers. The facts back this up! It’s estimated that someone who has not slept for 18 hours is just as impaired as someone with a 50 mg% blood alcohol level.  More importantly, driving tired is something that is in your hands. You can choose to get more sleep or not, so it’s an accident that can be easily avoided.

What do you think? Should Ontario laws get tougher on tired drivers? If your answer is yes, let your MP know! Laws only change when we encourage them to.

If you were injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, get the help you need to recover by contacting the Ottawa personal injury lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth at 613-233-4519.

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