top-rated free essay

Drowsy Driving

By onezemistoo Oct 10, 2008 988 Words
Deborah Salerno
November 20, 2007

SLEEP DEPRIVATION & DRIVING

Nothing could prepare me for the news I received six years ago about the unexpected death of my close friend Joey. I will never forget the night he died. How I had been with him just minutes before, and how his death was totally unnecessary and preventable. A few weeks before Christmas in 2001, Joey, myself and a few of my other co-workers were closing down the local restaurant we worked at while attending Umass Lowell. It had been a busy night, and we didn't end up finishing work until 1am. Having worked all day, we were all extremely tired, and could not wait to go home. Most of us were staying in Lowell at the time, but Joey had chosen to commute to campus and therefore had to travel out to Reading. I remember saying goodbye to him and I remember telling him to drive safely. I never thought that would be the last time I would ever see him. I never thought that he wouldn't "drive safely," and I most certainly never entertained the thought that he was so tired that he would fall asleep while operating his vehicle. Joey died on Interstate 93, not too far from his residence. He fell asleep at the wheel and flipped his car. He died upon impact.

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep, and the story of my close friend Joey is just one among many other stories that involve people killing either themselves, or someone else while asleep at the wheel. Sleep is essential for a person's health and well-being, and deprivation can carry many detrimental implications. Accumulating research on both people and animals has revealed staggering pysiological and behavioral consequences related to sleep deprivation. Sleep is necessary for the human body to replenish its energy supply, as well as sharpen cognitive functions, and restore memory. However, despite these findings, research has also shown that millions of Americans suffer from lack of sleep/sleep deprivation. ("What is Drowsy Driving?"). Although the amount of sleep needed for total replenishment varies per individual, research has demonstrated that the average healthy adult requies at least 8 hours of rest, and should not exeed wakefulness for more than sixteen hours.

There are a plethora of consequences related to sleep deprivation. These consequences include increased risk for fatal accidents, impaired cognitive functioning, hallucinations, and inability to perform everyday tasks. Major disasters such as Chernobyl, and the Space Shuttle Challenger have both officially been linked in part to errors of judgment due to sleep deprivation. (Butkov 25) .On a smaller scale, there has been a recent focus placed on sleep related motor vehicle accidents due to a significant increase of related fatalities. Research has shown that fatigue is currently the second leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. Studies have also confirmed that "drowsy-drivers" are comperable to those who drive while under the influence of alcohol. (Butkov 28). A study conducted to confrm this correlation disclosed the following results: Participants that drove after being awake for 17-19 hours drove worse than those who drove with a blood alcohol content level of .05. Subsequently, participants who drove after remaining awake for 20 to 25 hours demonstrated driving ability similar to those who had a blood alcohol content level of 1.0. ( Butkov 28).

Driving while drowsy is an extremely dangerous behavior. Many of us have been informed of the hazards that involve drinking and driving, but very few of us are aware of the risks associated with driving while fatigued. The issue of driving while drowsy is a controversial one, because unlike alcohol, it is nearly impossible to administer a test to determine fatigue as the primary cause of an accident. In addition to the barriers that surround proving one is fatigued, it is equally difficult to punish someone that is guilty of engaging in the act. Legislature regarding this issue is in its primary stages of developing a definition and criminal process for drowsy driving, and it may take some time before laws are securely put into place.

On a more positive note, gains are being made towards the direction of holding those presumed guilty of "drowsy driving" accountable for their reckless behavior. Unfortunately, it has taken a series of deaths in order to trigger this movement. One of the first laws developed (Maggie's Law,) was done so by the mother of 20 year old Maggie McDonnell who was hit head-on by a van driven by a drowsy driver in 1997. Mrs. McDonnell (the mother of Maggie,) was infuriated to learn that there was not a single law created to address the issue of vehicular homicide as a result of sleep deprivation, and therefore set forth to create one. Her efforts were successful, and in 2003 the nations' first "drowsy driving" law was implemented. Maggie's Law ammends the spectrum of vehicular homicide to include those who who operarte a vehicle while sleep deprived. Under Maggie's Law, offenders can be prosecuted if there is proof beyond a doubt that the operator fell asleep while driving, or was awake for more than 24 consecutive hours. Conviction under this law can carry a maximum penalty of ten years in prison. (Weaver 1).

As a future sleep technician, and a person who has suffered personally from the aftermath of a friend falling asleep at the wheel, the topic of "drowsy driving" is one concerns me. Studies show that there has been a significant rise in sleep-related crashes since the initiation of Maggie's Law in 2003, but only one recorded prosecution. Education is the key to the legislative revolution in regards to sleep-related accidents, and it is my hope that future lobbying will be the catalyst for more states to adopt more stringent laws to punish those guilty of driving while fatigued. in

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • distracted driving

    ... Maggie Behm Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. Distracted driving is driving while distracted. These distractions can range anywhere from eating to using a cell phone while driving- texting or calling, from loud music to having friends and family members in the car with you while you are driving. Almost anything can...

    Read More
  • Driving

    ...Demetrius Isaac 27 November 2013 To Hattie Isaac Driving Essay In today's world driving is considered a right, but in fact as I have found out it is a big privilege and one with many consequences. “Fatalities due to driving rose from 105 in 2002 to 181 in 2006 by now the total will be almost 350 deaths in one year.” That is almost one...

    Read More
  • Imparied Driving and Agressive Driving

    ...Impaired driving and Aggressive driving Impaired and aggressive driving are both reclus driving and puts the life of yourself and others in danger. If you are going to drive you should be driving responsibly on the road to prevent collisions. Impaired driving is driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and fatigue. This can cause bl...

    Read More
  • Basic Rules of Driving

    ...Before driving a car, you must learn first what road signs, colors, and sign shapes mean. You need to learn what the different road signs mean and what they look like. There are many signs which you must follow in order to get to your destination. It is very important that you learn all these before actually driving. Another thing you must k...

    Read More
  • Texting and Driving

    ...“Argumentative Essay RD” NWSU – Dr. Heard 14 September 2010 Texting and Driving Should Be Banned in Every State. Should the laws for texting while driving be the same in every State? In today’s society, the vast majority of people rely on a cell phone of their choice to talk, text, or e-mail. The most popular and dangerou...

    Read More
  • Elderly Driving

    ...Elderly Driving There has been an increase of accidents caused by elderly drivers over the course of many years. With such a dramatic increase, should elderly drivers have driving restrictions? I believe that after the age of 75, seniors should have to retake their drivers test or have restrictions, regardless of their driving record. Ther...

    Read More
  • Teenage Driving

    ...and learn to drive safely. Teens should also begin driving instruction at earlier ages in controlled areas. There is evidence that the longer a person drives the safer and less prone to accidents they are. Even though new teen drivers only make up 7% of people who drive they account for 14% of all driving fatalities. In 1998 5600 teens died in a...

    Read More
  • Reckless Driving in My Neighborhood

    ...Reckless Driving In My Neighborhood Nancy S. Young COMM105 Gayla Nelson March 13, 2006 Reckless Driving in My Neighborhood Our neighborhood is a place where we should be comfortable letting our children play, without having to worry about them getting hit by a reckless driver. If our children are in their on yard, there is still ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.