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Is Drowsy Driving Illegal in Michigan?

Technically, no — there is no law in the state of Michigan that specifically prohibits drowsy driving. As of July 10, 2018, the last time the review was conducted, the National Conference of State Legislatures found that only two states, Arkansas and New Jersey, had laws on the books explicitly prohibiting drowsy driving. However, every state, including Michigan, has legislation prohibiting negligent or reckless driving. In most cases, drowsy driving would fall under these provisions. You could even be ticketed or arrested if the police can prove that lack of sleep or duration of your trip without taking sufficient stops posed an unreasonable risk to yourself or others.

Why is Drowsy Driving Dangerous?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 91,000 drowsy driving related crashes occurred in 2017. Conservative estimates indicate that those 91,000 accidents resulted in 50,000 people injured and 800 deaths. Since 2017, drowsy driving accidents have continued to increase — it’s now estimated that drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths in the U.S. each year. Drowsy drivers suffer from slower reaction times, decreased awareness and impaired judgment which leads to increased risk of accidents.

How Can I Avoid Drowsy Driving?

The Michigan State Police recommend that you take a break every 100 miles or two hours on a road trip. It is also advisable to bring a buddy with you to share the driving, or at least talk with and help monitor the driver to make sure they are alert. Additionally, never drink or use drugs and drive — this is especially true if you are drowsy. Alcohol and drugs, even prescription or over the counter medications, can cause additional drowsiness or issues that exacerbate the risks caused by drowsy driving. Furthermore, try to avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m. and in the late afternoon, as these are the times are bodies are naturally in most need of sleep.

While it is always best to avoid drowsy driving in the first place, the Michigan State Police have some tips on getting home safely should you find yourself in a situation where you may be driving drowsy. The first is to pay attention to the rumble strips on the side of the highway. If you find yourself repeatedly drifting over the rumble strips, it is a sure sign that you need to take a break from driving. It is always best to find a safe place to take an extended break or to sleep for the night instead of risking a potentially fatal accident. If you decide to take a short break and then return to the road, drink two cups of coffee and then take a 15-to-20-minute nap. This will let you get a bit of sleep before the caffeine kicks in so you will be more alert when you will wake up. This strategy is scientifically proven to increase alertness — but only for short periods of time.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Hit by Drowsy Driver?

While we’ve hopefully provided you enough tips to avoid or responsibly counteract drowsy driving, there is another factor to consider — other drivers on the roads who may be experiencing drowsiness themselves! We sincerely hope that you are never in a situation where a fatigued driver nods off behind the wheel and crashes into your vehicle. However, if you or a loved one do find yourselves affected by such circumstances, the legal professionals at the Mike Morse Law Firm are here to help. Call us 24/7 at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or contact us online by clicking here.

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