If you work the graveyard shift or night shift at your job, you are more likely to suffer from a chronic condition known as “shift work sleep disorder” and three times more likely to be involved in a car accident, according to a new study.
According to a news report in The Daily Mail, researchers at the University of Missouri found that those who work non-traditional hours such as 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. (known as the graveyard shift) are at a greater risk of developing these chronic conditions that affect their sleep.
What The Study Found
Other chronic sleep conditions such as sleep apnea and insomnia increased the risk of crashes or near-crashes by 29% and 33% respectively. The study’s authors say this finding has several major implications, including the need to identify engineering countermeasures to help prevent these crashes from occurring. Some possible measures include the availability of highway rest areas, roadside and in-vehicle messaging to improve a driver’s attention, and encouraging drivers who work the late-night shift to use other modes of transportation such as rideshare or public transit.
In addition, researchers found that drivers with sleep disorders were likely to be more inattentive while driving. While previous studies have shown how sleep disorders can raise the risk of traffic crashes, this study goes a step further by using observed crash and near-crash data from about 2,000 events occurring in six U.S. states, researchers explained.
The Problem of Drowsy Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving resulted in 697 fatalities just in the year 2019. The safety agency noted that fatigue-related crashes occurred mostly between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon when people tend to experience dips in their circadian rhythm or internal body clock.
There is no question that drowsy driving is dangerous. In fact, it can be dangerous even when a person doesn’t actually fall asleep. Research shows that sleep deprivation leads to mental impairment that is similar to drunkenness. For example, 24 hours of sleep deprivation roughly equals the effect of someone having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10%. The legal limit is 0.08%.
This level of impairment could make an individual less attentive to their surroundings. It slows their reaction time, making it more difficult to respond to real-life driving situations. Insufficient sleep is also associated with worsened decision-making, poor judgment, and increased risk-taking while driving.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a drowsy driver, you may be able to seek compensation for the injuries, damages, and losses you have sustained. An experienced California car accident lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.