If a Massachusetts state lawmaker gets his way, sleepy drivers in the
state will get a wake-up call.
A bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, would make
driving while drowsy a criminal offense similar to driving while impaired by
drugs or alcohol.
It is intended to make drivers more aware of the dangers of driving
while drowsy through education programs and would also require law enforcement
to learn how to recognize the sleep-deprived driver.
“The number of traffic fatalities caused by drowsy drivers is
staggering,” Moore, chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, said in a
written statement. “This is a public safety issue that we can address by
acknowledging the problem, educating people about it and giving our law
enforcement officers the tools to prevent it.”
The bill also would require studies to measure and test when a driver
poses a danger to himself or others so that drowsy driving could be subject to
penalties for acting irresponsibly. The legislation also seeks to increase the
penalties for vehicular homicide resulting from drowsy driving.
The U.S. Department of Transportation identifies fatigue as the biggest
safety problem in transportation operations, costing more than $12 billion a
year in productivity and property loss, the Capital
News service reported.
The Massachusetts bill, S2124, is in the legislature’s Joint Committee