Increased Risk for Car Accidents in Night Shift Workers

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Dangers of Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)

Graveyard shift workers are three times as likely to be involved in a car accident or near-crash compared to other drivers, the results of a new study from the University of Missouri show.

Researchers found millions of night workers suffer from shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), a chronic condition caused by long-term disruption of the body’s natural sleep cycle. According to the findings, people who suffer from SWSD have a 300 percent higher risk of crashing than the general population. By contrast, drivers with other common sleep conditions such as sleep apnea or insomnia are at a 30 percent greater risk, the study said.

Around 20 percent of full-time working Americans are shift workers. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of those employees have some form of sleep disorder.

Average Annual Number of Drowsy Driving Accidents

Dangers of Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD)

Poor sleep is unhealthy for everyone. People with SWSD are at a distinct disadvantage because it’s not like they can just quit their jobs — their livelihoods depend on it! However, living with SWSD creates issues with both sleep quality and sleep quantity.

According to the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center, night shift workers get anywhere from two to four less hours of sleep each day than non-sufferers. In addition, they experience symptoms such as:

  • Problems falling asleep/staying asleep
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

All of these factors can contribute to drowsy driving accidents. According to the Michigan State Police, fatigue causes 100,000 accidents nationally, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.

Types of Night Shift Jobs

Many essential occupations involve night shift workers. Examples include:

  • Doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and laboratory workers
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Paramedics
  • Security officers
  • Truck drivers
  • Pilots, flight attendants, and airport workers
  • Factory workers
  • Food services
  • Cleaning services
  • Computer programmers
  • Administrative support technicians
  • Stock traders
  • Financial advisors
  • Hotel and hospitality workers
  • Gas station employees

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

If you are a graveyard shift worker, it’s important to take steps to reduce the chances of drowsy driving. Sleep experts recommend:

  • Napping before your shift
  • Trying to stay on a consistent shift rotation, if possible
  • Sleeping in a cool, quiet room with blackout curtains and earplugs to reduce light and noise
  • Avoiding caffeine in the last few hours of your shift
  • Talking to your doctor about whether melatonin or prescription/over-the-counter (OTC) medications would be appropriate
  • Light therapy

Estimated Percentage of Large Truck or Bus Crashes on U.S. Roadways Involving a Tired Driver

How a Drowsy Driving Accident Attorney Can Help

If you were seriously hurt in a drowsy driving accident in Michigan, an experienced lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your losses. At Christensen Law, our car accident attorneys have successfully fought for the rights of injured Michiganders for more than 25 years. We have a reputation for excellence and a track record of impressive results spanning all areas of personal injury law.

To learn how we can help you, call or contact us today for a free consultation.