Over the past several decades, road safety activists, law enforcement officials, car accident lawyers, and other stakeholders have done an excellent job stigmatizing certain behind-the-wheel activities. Drunk driving is the classic example – it’s still a major problem on Canadian roads, but as it has become less socially acceptable fatality rates have fallen. Using a smartphone while driving is the new public enemy #1, alongside stoned driving in the wake of marijuana legalization.
Far less attention is paid to ‘drowsy driving,’ the act of getting behind the wheel while significantly fatigued. We’ve all done it, yet research suggests it’s just as dangerous as driving while under the influence. According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in the State of Victoria, Australia, drowsy driving is a suspected factor in more than 20 per cent of traffic fatalities. Being awake 17 hours, says TAC’s official drowsy driving page, has the same effect on your driving as a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05; being awake 24 hours has the same effect as a BAC of 0.1, which is well over Ontario’s legal limit.
Drowsy driving causes slower reaction times, lack of concentration, difficulty calculating speed and distance, poor judgement, and the possibility of falling asleep at the wheel, which can have devastating consequences as car accident lawyers well know. The symptoms are all amplified when they occur in the drivers who are most susceptible to them: commercial truck and bus operators.
Last month, federal transportation minister Marc Garneau announced upcoming regulations to reduce fatigue among drivers of large commercial vehicles. The new rules, which will come into effect in June 2021, require federally regulated operators to install electronic logging devices in their vehicles’ engines. The devices will track how long drivers have been behind the wheel and ensure they comply with existing standards.
“In doing this, we are looking to reduce truck and bus crashes due to fatigue,” Garneau said at a press event, according to the CBC. “These devises will help to ensure that commercial drivers drive within their limit and accurately log their working hours.”
Today, drivers are required to track their time behind the wheel in manual log books, which can be easily manipulated. Trucking industry representatives believe the new electronic devices will put all operators on a level playing field.
“Third-party certified electronic logging devises will ensure that everyone follows the same rules,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance President Stephen Laskowski. “And if we follow the rules, the highways will be safer.”
Alongside improvements in drunk driving rates and ongoing efforts to curb distracted driving, the upcoming drowsy driving regulations may pave the way for a safer future on Canadian roads.
If you or a member of your family has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of car accident lawyers can provide guidance, advice and representation as you pursue compensation.
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