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Night-shift workers are more susceptible to drowsy driving

Did you know that somewhere around 9.5 million people here in the United States work night shift? It stands to reason that several of them do so here in Pennsylvania. Because their circadian rhythms (sleep patterns) do not follow the "normal" course, many seem to be chronically sleep deprived.

In addition, as you may be heading out to work, you more than likely share the roadways with drivers who have been up all night working. Research indicates that even with adequate sleep, night shift workers are more susceptible to drowsy driving, which means they could present a significant danger to everyone on the roads.

Some interesting information

The longer a person drives after working the night shift, the more their ability to safely drive diminishes. When you consider the fact that the average commute in the country requires around 30 minutes, that becomes a significant piece of information.

In light of that information, it probably doesn't surprise you that significant numbers of fatal and serious-injury accidents involve a drowsy driver. It's plausible that at least some of those drivers worked nights.

Some study information

In one study, researchers recruited individuals who actually do work night shift. When their driving abilities were tested after working, a safety observer paired with the study subject had to take over and perform emergency braking maneuvers in order to avoid a collision for 37.5 percent of the study's participants. When the participants had a night of sleep, there was no need for such an action 100 percent of the time.

Safety observers did not allow approximately 43.8 percent of the drivers involved in the study to complete the course due to an inability to control the vehicle during post-night shift testing. Again, after having a night of sleep, all participants were allowed to and able to complete the test.

In both instances, it became obvious within the first 15 minutes of driving that impairment due to drowsiness was an issue for those coming off a night shift. After approximately 30 minutes of driving, the participants began experiencing micro-sleeps. When emergency maneuvers and halting of testing occurred, the participants had driven for at least 45 minutes.

Some legal information

If your morning commute was interrupted by a collision with a driver on his or her way home after working all night, you may consider filing a personal injury claim in an attempt to recover the financial losses and other damages you sustained due to the crash.

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