Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HIGHWAY SAFETY; A Wake-Up Call

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

HIGHWAY SAFETY; A Wake-Up Call

Article excerpt

Driving while drowsy is officially against the law in New Jersey.

The law that took effect last month could mean up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine for the driver if evidence shows someone died because the motorist became drowsy or fell asleep.

The first law of its kind in the nation, "Maggie's Law" is named for Maggie McDonnell, a 20-year-old New Jersey college student who died in 1997 after a driver dosed off, swerved across three lanes and hit her vehicle head-on. The driver had not slept in 30 hours.

Under New Jersey's new law, drivers are considered fatigued if they have gone for more than 24 straight hours without sleep. But police in New Jersey are not supposed to pull people over just because they look tired.

There is little doubt dozing drivers are a problem. There is considerable doubt that the law can do much about it.

A 1995 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates sleepy drivers cause at least 1,555 deaths, 100,000 crashes and 71,000 injuries a year. …

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