CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Ever find yourself falling asleep at the wheel? A new proposal from a Tennessee senator is aiming to make fatigued driving that leads to a deadly car crash a crime.
The proposal, submitted to the Tennessee General Assembly Wednesday by State Senator Becky Duncan Massey, would make driving while fatigued or with no sleep for a 24 hour period a crime if it leads to another driver being killed.
We reached out to Senator Massey's office for a comment. Massey said she created the bill after a concerned citizen had a close family member killed by a drowsy driver.
McMahan Law Firm attorney Jay Kennamer says it would be difficult to prove that someone has been sleep-deprived while driving. He believes the proposed law is impractical.
"Fatigue is very subjective, very hard to prove," says Kennamer.
Kennemer adds that the only person who can prove someone has fatigue is the person that has fatigue themself.
"You can only have the person driving really describe how bad their fatigue is," Kennemer says. "Unless they are impaired some other way."
We also spoke with Dr. Beth Ann Malow who is the director of the sleep division at Vanderbilt.
Dr. Malow some insight into what it's like driving while sleep-deprived.
"Our judgment when we're sleep deprived is not good. In other words, we're more apt to take risks," Dr. Malow says.
Dr. Malow also added it is possible to see how much sleep someone is getting with certain technology, but it's not as practical as a breathalyzer test.
"It would be really hard to pull somebody over and prove that they're having microsleeps or their judgment is impaired," Dr. Malow says.
At the end of the day, Kennemer says the bill seems more symbolic than anything.
"If it has a positive effect, great. Will it be practical in use? No," Kennemer says.