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The dangers posed by drowsy drivers

When it comes to dangerous driving in Knoxville, most are familiar with the problems associated with drunk or distracted driving. However, much debate exists over drowsy driving. While there may be little to argue about in terms of the wisdom of driving while one is obviously tired, most people still believe that their motor skills are immune to fatigue. Yet statistics seem to counter that line of thinking.

Information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that roughly 2 percent of all injury crashes and 2.5 percent of fatal car accidents in the U.S. involve drowsy driving. Their information goes on to show that of a survey of more than 150,000 drivers, over 4 percent admitted to having fallen asleep while behind the wheel within the last 30 days. However, it’s believed that the problem presented by drowsy drivers is actually much worse. That’s because many cases likely go unreported, as those whose drowsiness causes accidents may be afraid to admit their fault.

How much of a danger can drowsy drivers pose? The CDC estimates that after being awake for 24 consecutive hours, one’s cognitive function is impaired to the point of being comparable to a blood-alcohol content level almost .10 percent over the legal limit in most states.

Tennessee policymakers have recently taken action to try and mitigate the dangers posed by these drivers. According to, legislation was introduced in early 2014 that proposed adding fatigue to the last of factors attributing to vehicular homicide. If and when this proposed bill passes, those who violate it could face a Class E felony charge. Yet even in the absence of criminal charges, victims of drowsy driving accidents may still have the right to pursue compensation from those who caused their collisions. 

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