Tracy Morgan’s accident sheds light on the dangers of sleepy driving

A recent accident in New Jersey highlights the importance of staying alert behind the wheel.

If you have been following New Jersey news, you may have heard that comedic actor Tracy Morgan was recently involved in a serious truck accident on June 7, 2014. According to sources, a truck operator allegedly failed to respond to slowed cars on the Jersey Turnpike, and the driver crashed into a limousine that was transporting Morgan and other passengers. The accident killed one person in the limousine and injured four others.

After preliminary accident investigations, authorities discovered that the motorist had been sleep deprived for over 24 hours. Driver fatigue has been a serious issue and prevalent topic in New Jersey. In fact, in 2003, the state was the first to bar drowsy driving with the implementation of Maggie's Law.

According to Maggie's Law, a motorist lacking greater than 24 successive hours of sleep is deemed "reckless." Moreover, if a driver in such condition causes a fatal accident, he or she could be slapped with vehicular homicide charges, up to one decade behind bars and a hefty fine. The policy is that sleepy motorists demonstrate slower reaction times, impaired judgment, increased aggressiveness and inferior coordination behind the wheel.

In 2011, a National Sleep Foundation study uncovered that 60 percent of surveyed adults admitted to driving drowsy at least one time. Moreover, approximately 40 percent of polled respondents confessed to falling asleep while driving in the preceding year. This is alarming, as AAA indicates that approximately one in six deadly car accidents results from sleepy driving.

Research suggests that motorists are most susceptible to drowsy driving between the hours of 2 to 4 in the morning and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This is when the body's system, which controls periods of wakefulness and sleepiness, dips. The system, known as the circadian rhythm, additionally allows individuals to feel tired as daylight diminishes. Therefore, if an individual does not sleep soundly the evening before, the body's decline during the aforementioned hours is more aggressive.

Therefore, to help prevent drowsy driving, safety advocates encourage the following, which can help improve alertness behind the wheel for short periods:

  • Ingesting coffee
  • A 20-minute nap
  • Making the dashboard brighter

While these are not long-term resolutions to driving while tired, these tips can serve as a pick-me-up behind the wheel.

However, at the end of the day, it is never okay to drive under reckless circumstances - alcohol intoxication, drugs or lack of sleep. This is why state and federal laws prohibit operating a vehicle or truck in such conditions.

If you have been injured in a truck or car accident, it may help to talk to an attorney. There are laws in New Jersey that help prevent impaired motorists from taking the streets. If a driver has recklessly ignored the rules of the road, he or she should be held accountable for any resulting harm.

Keywords: Tracy Morgan, truck accidents, car accidents, drowsy driving