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Drowsy Driving Liability

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Can you be liable for drowsy driving? Or responsible if you know that someone else is tired behind the wheel?

The parents of a Yale fraternity member have sued the fraternity for negligence after he was killed in a car accident.

The frat had its “hell week” in which it had the pledges do all kinds of around-the-clock activities including the last activity in New York City. To get the members back to Yale, it had some students drive others. The boy who died was in a car driven by another fraternity member who wasn’t drinking – the driver was the designated driver. But the driver was, according to the lawsuit, exhausted from the hell week activities and got into an accident that killed the passengers.

The parents say that the fraternity shouldn’t have let kids drive knowing they were exhausted. The case has not yet been decided but it is unlikely that the fraternity would be liable where, as here, it actually had implemented a designated driver program. Otherwise, the possible liability for anyone else’s imperfect driving would be limitless.

That said, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 100,000 accidents a year are caused by drowsy driving so pull over if you find your eyelids closing.

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