Drowsy Driving

After staying awake for 24 hours straight, a person will be about as impaired as if he had had enough alcohol to be legally drunk in most states, a study says.

Australian researchers tested 40 people to create a "blood alcohol equivalent'' for different levels of impairment from sleeplessness.

  • In one experiment, participants stayed awake for 28 hours. In the other, they drank alcohol every half hour until they reached a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. That's the drunken-driving standard in most American states.
  • Every half hour, the subjects took a computerized test of hand-eye coordination.
  • Results showed that after 24 hours of sleeplessness, participants were about as impaired as they were at the 0.10 percent level of blood alcohol. After 17 hours, they were about as impaired as they were with an alcohol level of 0.05 percent, which many Western countries define as legally drunk, the researchers said.

The State of New Jersey has now made any injury crash involving fatigue, a felony.

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