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A Closer Look at Nightshift Work and the Risk of Drowsy Driving Accidents

In 2014, 846 people were killed in car accidents attributed to drowsy driving. Fatal accidents represent only a small portion of the total number of collisions involving fatigued drivers. In fact, Journalist’s Resource from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center reports that thousands, or even millions, of drowsy driving accidents happen annually.

Estimates on the scope of the problem vary greatly, with data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collected between 2005 and 2009 revealing an average of 83,000 drowsy driving-related accidents annually. A different report from a Special Commission on Drowsy Driving, however, estimated around 1.2 million fatigue-related collisions each year. The Special Commission report also projected 500,000 injuries and 8,000 fatalities in 2016 due to drowsy drivers.

Whatever the scope of the problem, it is clear that far too many people are losing their lives or getting hurt because drivers choose to get behind the wheel without getting enough sleep.  Unfortunately, some motorists are far more likely than others to face drowsy driving accident risks. For example, nightshift workers have to drive home after completing overnight shifts, which may have consequences for their safety.

If a nightshift worker causes an auto accident, victims who are hurt or those whose family members are killed should consult with Steve Caya, a Janesville auto accident injury lawyer, for help in determining if a claim can be made to obtain compensation for crash losses.

HOW NIGHTSHIFT WORK INCREASES DROWSY DRIVING ACCIDENT RISKS

According to Journalist Resource, eight researchers studied the driving habits of people who worked the nightshift. There were 16 nightshift workers included in the study whose behavior was monitored. The goal was to compare the driving abilities of the nightshift workers following a night in which they received at least five hours of sleep with their driving ability on a different day when they worked a night shift and drove right after.

The research revealed some troubling information about the risks that a nightshift worker presents after he or she works all night and then drives home. For example:

  • In close to 38 percent of the drives after a nightshift worker was up working a shift, a near-crash occurred. In these instances, a safety observer who was in the front seat of the vehicle had to utilize an emergency brake in order to prevent a collision. By contrast, no near accidents happened in the drives when the nightshift worker had gotten several hours of sleep before taking the drives. The near-crash incidents all occurred 45 minutes or more after the nightshift workers got into the car.
  • Seven of the drives that took place after nightshift work had to be ended early because the driver was not able to safely maintain control of the car. There were no drives that had to be ended early when the drivers had gotten at least five hours of sleep the night before.  The early terminations all occurred at least 45 minutes after the start of the trip.
  • There were significantly higher ocular measures of drowsiness among those who had worked a nightshift compared with when the same people had gotten sleep the night before.

Based on this research, it was concluded that “there is a high risk of dangerous driving after working a night shift.”  Drivers who work nights need to be aware of the dangers. If they cause a crash while fatigued, Steve Caya can assist victims in pursuing a claim for compensation.

Contact injury lawyer Steve Caya for a free case consultation.