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Do You Drive While Sleep Deprived?
Oct. 5, 2018
Drunk driving may be receiving more public attention, but there is another danger citizens should be wary of, and that is drowsy driving. In fact, fatigue is a common problem among Canadian drivers, and is also the cause of many road accidents. Gary Howard of the Canadian Automobile Association points out that 20% of road accidents in Canada are caused by drowsy driving. This figure equals that of distracted driving, which can be caused by things like cell phone use. Other research has shown that even just one to two hours of missed sleep can double your risk of crashing. Drivers who get less than five hours of sleep are also under the same risks as those whose abilities are impaired by alcohol.

However, a Statistics Canada report on the quality of sleep reveals that a whopping one-third of Canadians are sleep-deprived, or are getting less than the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. According to the survey, men between the ages of 18 and 64 have significantly less time for sleep than women, while the latter reported more trouble falling or staying asleep. Some of the most common reasons people have trouble sleeping are inconsistent sleep schedules, stress, and too much caffeine.

In an attempt to address the issue and spread awareness on drowsy driving earlier this year, Uber Canada rolled out a new policy that forces drivers to take regular breaks. After 12 hours of use, the ride-hailing app will block a driver from accepting customers, and will only work again after 6 hours. The new mechanism will not count periods when a driver is parked for more than a minute between trips. The company has long adopted a hands-off approach with its drivers, so this new feature signals a shift in direction for them. The rule has already been implemented in their operations in other countries like the US, which has high rates of fatal vehicle accidents.

In a similar vein, the US federal government has also taken measures to promote road safety, especially when it comes to commercial truck drivers. Regulators enforced the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) last year in order for truckers to comply with the maximum hours of service rule. In this regulation, drivers may only be on the road for a maximum of 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. A similar ELD mandate was proposed by Transport Canada, but the hours of service would be up to 13 hours a day within a 16-hour workday. Cross-border truckers have expressed their preference for Canada’s system because it allows them more flexibility.

One of the main problems the ELD mandate aims to address is the tendency of truck drivers to work overtime — thereby lessening time for rest and increasing their chances of drowsy driving. Just last year, a Yukon truck driver was fined and charged for failing to rest. In the investigation, it was revealed that his logbooks did not match the truck’s mileage, with several eight and nine-hour trips that were not accounted for. The driver had also apparently recorded only five-hour gaps between his shifts.

Central to these programs, ELDs serve to accurately track a driver’s hours of service by connecting with the vehicle’s engine and monitoring its status. They may encourage drivers to strictly work within their time limit, thereby helping improve road safety. However, Verizon Connect also points out other benefits of ELD use, like fuel efficiency improvement and enhanced productivity. Both of these aspects can drastically reduce accidents on the road.

Drowsy driving may be as dangerous as drunk driving, and is perhaps even more prevalent. Driving while fatigued or sleepy may fall under careless driving, which is considered a penal offence here in Quebec. If you have caused a minor accident because of lack of sleep or fatigue, you’re bound to be issued a ticket. We can help you analyse the charges and provide legal consultation. Visit the Ticket 911 website to learn more about our various packages related to ticket charges.


Written by: Andrea Klutz  for