Night shift workers with sleep disorder are at higher risk of car accidents, study finds

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Many different driving behaviors can lead to car accidents in Illinois. While using a cellphone and other forms of distracted driving are often to blame for crashes, drowsy driving is a real danger.

A new study from the University of Missouri examined the impact of sleep disorders on a person’s ability to drive safely. Researchers found that night shift workers with shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) are three times more likely to be involved in a car accident than other drivers. In contrast, drivers with sleep apnea or insomnia had a 30 percent higher chance of crashing.

SWSD is a chronic condition that arises when the body’s natural sleep cycle experiences long-term disruptions. The disorder is known to affect shift workers who do not keep traditional nine-to-five work hours. The lack of quality sleep can lead to symptoms like tiredness, poor concentration, headaches and irritability. All these factors can contribute to drowsy driving accidents.

The findings, published in the Safety Science journal, reported that millions of night shift workers suffer from SWSD. According to the Cleveland Clinic, about one-fifth of the U.S. workforce consists of shift workers. Between 10 to 40 percent of those individuals may have a sleep disorder.

Night shift workers span many types of occupations. Some examples include medical professionals, security officers, truck drivers, firefighters, factory workers, hospitality employees, food service staff and flight attendants.

There are certain strategies night shift workers can use to minimize their risk of car accidents due to drowsy driving. Getting some rest before driving home and trying to maintain a consistent shift rotation can help with alertness. Workers can also use public transportation such as taxis or buses when SWSD symptoms are particularly worrisome. In some cases, doctors may prescribe melatonin or other medications.

Drowsy driving can be dangerous for both the driver and others on the road. If you were injured in an Illinois car accident, you might be able to recover compensation from the negligent driver. The Chicago car accident lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg are here to protect your rights and help you in the aftermath of a crash. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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