Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have shown that night shift workers are at a greater risk for drowsy driving than those with regular sleep schedules. Over 9.5 million people work night shifts or rotational shifts in Virginia and across the U.S., which explains why drowsy driving is considered such a public health hazard.
In a study conducted by the researchers, 16 night shift workers were asked to participate in two driving sessions, both on a closed driving track. The first session took place after participants slept the night, and the second after they returned from shift work. On the whole, drivers exhibited more drowsiness and poorer driving performance during the second session.
Six out of 16 drivers ended their second session with a near-crash event, while over a third wound up having to make emergency brake maneuvers. Veteran night shift workers fared no better than others, with researchers comparing some of their reactions to those of intoxicated drivers. Half of all sessions ended with drivers losing control of their vehicles.
Researchers warn that even short commutes can endanger drivers. They state that, on average, they could detect drowsiness in the participants within the first 15 minutes of each session. They conclude that drivers should be encouraged to pull over at the first sign of drowsiness rather than take unnecessary risks.
However, many do and wind up causing both minor and serious car accidents. Whatever the extent of the injuries, victims should hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim. In the case of death, a lawyer could be retained for help with a wrongful death suit. The firm will most likely hire investigators to determine just how negligent both parties were. Once the evidence is gathered, the lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company or, failing to agree on a settlement, take the case to court.