Everyone knows the dangers of drunk driving, but what about the dangers of drowsy driving? In the United States, only two states have enacted laws that make drowsy driving illegal: New Jersey and Arkansas.

In 2013, Arkansas criminalized drowsy driving. Arkansas law requires two elements to be present for a court to convict someone of drowsy driving. First, the driver must not have slept in the 24 hours prior to the accident. Second, the car accident must result in a death. Drowsy Driving in Arkansas is punishable by up to twenty (20) years in the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

Drowsy driving statistics

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, drowsy driving leads to over 100 thousand car accidents each year. Tragically, over 70 thousand people sustain injuries and at least 1,500 are killed. A major reason for drowsy driving might be the lack of sleep Americans are getting each night. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 30 percent of Americans are getting less than seven hours of sleep per night, which is considered “enough sleep” to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Lack of sleep can cause decreased awareness, slower reaction times, trouble concentrating and changes in other motor and cognitive skills that affect a person’s ability to drive. Some researchers believe drowsy driving can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

There can be serious penalties for a drowsy driving conviction. However, these convictions are difficult to prove. If you or someone you love sustains injuries in a car accident, consult with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options and determine if drowsy driving might have been the cause.