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Night Shift Workers and Drowsy Driving

drowsy driving

Car Accident Lawyers Agree, Drowsy Driving Is Dangerous

Drowsy driving is one of the major causes of road accidents in America. Normally, the driver believes that they are sufficiently awake to drive, even when they feel sleepy or tired. The thought of them causing an accident does not even cross their mind; they greatly underestimate the effect that their fatigue has on their driving abilities.

Similar to driving under the influence, drowsy driving reduces a driver’s response time. The drowsy driver has significantly reduced awareness and impaired judgment. Unlike driving under the influence, there are no breath or blood tests that can be used to detect drowsiness in a driver’s system. This makes it somewhat difficult for officers to spot drowsy drivers, and this places other road users in great danger. Accidents caused by drowsy drivers are one of the more common cases handled by car accident lawyers, and victims of such accidents are by law entitled to compensation for their damages.

Drowsy driving is very common among night shift workers. When drivers hit the road after working an entire night shift, their chances of getting involved in a car accident is significantly increased, putting them and other road users at risk of serious injuries. A study carried out by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) discovered that 37.5% of the drivers in the test group experienced a near-crash event after working a full night shift.

This study emphasizes how night shift workers are involved in considerably more accidents compared to daytime workers, especially on their drive from work to home. The study sample comprised 16 night shift workers who were requested to complete two different, two hour driving sessions on the driving track at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. One of the sessions examined the driver’s driving skills after around 7.5 hours of sleep, while the other session examined the driver’s driving skills after working a full night shift. The two driving tests took place at similar times of the day for every participant. The following criteria were determined for every session:

  • Physiological degrees of drowsiness: Brief sleep episodes determined by an EEG, partial closure of the eyelid with slow movements of the eye that could lead to falling asleep while driving.
  • Driving performance was assessed by observing the following: Loss of car control, near-crash events, and frequency of weaving in and out of lanes.
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When the driving performance of the post-sleep group was compared to that of the post-night shift group, the night shift group was found to have the following results:

  • Compromised driving skills and increased drowsiness
  • More than a third of this group needed emergency braking maneuvers
  • Almost half of the drivers in this group were forced to stop early in the process given that they could not maintain steady control of their cars
  • Higher rates of lane departures
  • Greater numbers of slow movements of the eye and prolonged durations of blinking
  • Increased impairment, drowsiness, and overall risk of a crash during the test drive.

According to one of the researchers, drowsy driving has a similar effect on the less experienced night shift workers as it does for the experienced night shift workers. The reactions displayed by most of the drivers were, in fact, similar to those observed in drunk drivers. Night shift workers with a longer commute home are at more risk of getting involved in a crash compared to those with short commutes home.

If you or your loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, contact us and we will assign you one of our experienced car accident lawyers to help with your case. The car accident lawyers at Wilshire Law Firm have the necessary skills and knowledge needed in dealing with a case like yours.

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