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Drowsy driving a major concern for night shift workers

While night shift workers are known to develop conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes, they may also be at risk for a car crash on the way home due to drowsiness. Night shift workers in New York and across the nation should consider the results of a study made by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Researchers conducted two driving sessions for 16 participants, both on a closed driving track. The first session took place after the participants had slept an average of 7.6 hours, and the second after they had completed their night shift at the place of their employment. Half of all sessions ended early with the drivers losing control of their vehicles. In the second session, researchers could detect signs of drowsiness within the first 15 minutes, on average. 37.5 percent of the drivers were involved in a near-crash event, and over a third had to use emergency braking maneuvers.

Increased drowsiness, which was measured by an EEG during micro-sleep episodes, and poorer driving performance were a given with the second session. The authors of the study have concluded that night shift workers should try to find alternate transportation for their commute home so that they can avoid accidents. Americans who work a night shift or rotating shift number over 9.5 million.

In a survey, 28 percent of the respondents admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel in the past year. Though drowsy driving is a common cause of car crashes, that doesn't mean that it is excusable. The victim of such an accident can file an injury claim, which, if successful, could cover medical expenses, rehabilitative care, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. A lawyer could be retained to determine the degree to which the sleep-deprived driver was negligent.

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