For some professions, working a night shift is unavoidable. Restaurant workers, firefighters, babysitters and many other professionals typically need to drive home in the early hours of the morning after putting in an eight-hour shift. Unfortunately, this routine can increase your likelihood of being in a dangerous crash.
While many safe driving efforts focus on the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol or texting while driving, drowsy driving is just as dangerous. People fall asleep behind the wheel all the time, and if you maintain this type of work schedule, then you need to make sure you practice safe driving all the time. You also need to be vigilant of other potentially drowsy drivers on the road.
Researchers find the problem is more widespread than most people realize
Researchers conducted a study to see how working a night shift impacts a person's driving capabilities. Sixteen people participated, and researchers watched them drive after getting 7.6 hours of sleep without working any night shift. They then compared that information to the driver's abilities after working a night shift and having a reduced sleep schedule. The researchers found that participants were about 37 percent more likely to be in a crash.
Additional studies have found working night shifts can lead to other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. People who work these shifts also typically have poorer diets and get less exercise.
Steps you can take to reduce the chances of an accident after your night shift
You may have no choice but to work a night shift for your job, and you need to be proactive about remaining safe once you leave work. Even individuals who have worked night shifts for years are still susceptible to a higher likelihood of being in an accident. You should develop a sleeping pattern that works for your schedule that still allows you to receive seven to eight hours of sleep a day. You also want to make sure you exercise regularly and see a doctor often to keep your health in check.