Ainsman Levine, LLC

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Drowsy driving a hazard among night shift workers

Working a night shift has been known to impact antioxidant activity and immune system function, among other markers of physical health. It can also lead to conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, what some people in Pennsylvania aren't aware of is that drowsy driving, especially during daytime commutes, is another hazard associated with shift work.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital have conducted a study to show how shift work can impact driver performance. A total of 16 individuals with varying experience in night shift work were selected to participate in two driving sessions. The first took place after sleeping for the night, and the second after completing their shift. The second was marked by poor driving performance and an increase in near-crash events; in fact, 37.5 percent were involved in a near-crash.

Over a third of the participants had their second session terminated early after having to use their emergency brakes. Even more alarming, researchers ended half of all sessions early because drivers lost control of their vehicles. It took only an average of 15 minutes for researchers to see that drivers were becoming drowsy. This means that even relatively short commutes can pose a risk. The authors of the study believe that better education can help prevent accidents, even encouraging drivers to pull over when feeling drowsy.

In the event that a drowsy driver causes a car accident, the victim should know that there's a way to be compensated for medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages and other matters. Legal representation will be important at every stage of the injury claim since lawyers can often hire investigators, photographers and accident reconstruction experts to establish proof of negligence. Insurance companies can be tenacious in denying clients a settlement, but a lawyer may be adept at handling negotiations and may be able to litigate as a last resort.

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