Experience you can trust – a local practice reaching back five generations
Photo of William H. Wilhoit

Drowsy Driving a Health Issue With Night Shift Workers

Working the night shift leads to a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle, leading to greater drowsiness by the time employees are driving home. Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital have conducted a study to point out the dangers to all night shift workers in Kentucky and throughout the U.S.

The study involved 16 night shift workers who were asked to drive for two sessions on a closed driving track. The first session was conducted after a full night’s sleep, the second after all 16 were off work. In the second session, over a third of the drivers ended by performing emergency braking maneuvers, and 37.5 percent had near-crash events, thus ending their session early. Half of all sessions ended early when drivers failed to maintain control of their vehicle.

Researchers stated that they could recognize sleep-related impairment in the participants within 15 minutes of driving. An EEG was used during micro-sleep episodes to measure the drowsiness, and slow eye movements calculated partial eyelid closure. The results of the study have led the authors to push for better education regarding the effects of an irregular sleep schedule. Their hope is that drivers will seek other ways of getting home after work.

However, the fact remains that many car accidents are caused by drowsy or inattentive driving. In such cases, victims may file an injury claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company. A lawyer could build up the case by hiring investigators to reconstruct the accident scene and consult the driver’s medical records. The lawyer can then proceed with negotiations, hopefully reaching a settlement that compensates the victim for medical bills, lost wages, and other applicable amounts.