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Night shift drivers risk drowsiness on the way home

Over 9.5 million Americans work a night shift or rotational shift, and around 28 percent of drivers admitted that they fell asleep at the wheel once last year. This is according to researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital. Night shift workers in Georgia should know that drowsy driving is considered a public health hazard and can hit them hard during their commute home.

To reveal how driver performance is affected by shift work, the researchers conducted a study involving two driving sessions. 16 night shift workers were asked to drive on a closed track, the first time after sleeping for the night and the second time after completing a full shift. Half of all sessions were terminated early when the drivers failed to maintain control of their vehicles.

In the second session, 6 out of the 16 drivers were involved in near-crash events. Over a third had to use their emergency brakes, ending their session early. On average, researchers could pick up signs of sleep-related impairment within the first 15 minutes of each session. This means that even short commutes can be potentially hazardous. For this reason, the authors of the study encourage drivers to pull over when drowsy and, if possible, find alternate means of transportation after the shift is over.

Nevertheless, automobile accidents continue to be caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. These types of crashes can cause severe physical harm to occupants of other vehicles. People who have been the victims of such an accident might want to meet with an attorney to see if the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent motorist would be advisable.

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