A recent study conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) measured the effects of drowsy driving by comparing the performance of night shift workers driving in two test drives; one after a night of sleep, and one after their usual night shift. The results were both astounding and disturbing, with 37.5% of the participants nearly crashing during their after-shift test drive. All of the participants knew that they were being closely observed and yet 40% of the tests had to be terminated because the drowsy drivers were determined to be too high-risk to continue driving. Among the people who had their post-night shift driving session ended prematurely, none came close to exhibiting dangerous driving behaviors during their first session that included the night off and a full night’s sleep.
The tests took place on a closed driving track at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. Participants (all night shift workers) took part in two, two-hour driving sessions in which driving performance was evaluated and measures of drowsiness were collected. For the first session, participants slept an average of 7.6 hours the previous night with no night shift work. The second driving session took place right after the participant’s usual shift. Prior to the test sessions, more than half of the sixteen participants claimed that they nod out behind the wheel at least once a week. Cameras facing the driver and the roads, and an EEG helped further detail what exactly happened as a result of those driving while drowsy.
The BWH study gathered multiple conclusions relating to the detrimental effects of drowsy driving. During the post-shift drive, it was observed that:
- As participants showed an increase in drowsiness, their risk of near-crashes increased as well.
- Drowsiness, impairment and crash risk increased over the duration of the drive.
- Impairment due to sleep-deprivation was evident within the first 15 minutes of driving.
- The risk of micro-sleep episodes (nodding off) increased after driving for more than 30 minutes.
- The participants had a much higher number of slow eye movements as well as a longer blink duration than they had exhibited during the previous driving session with sleep.
- Over one third of the drivers required use of emergency braking maneuvers.
- The drivers showed a significantly higher rate of lane excursions.
- Almost half of the post night shift driving sessions were terminated early due to the dangers their drowsy driving presented.
If possible, night workers should try and see if they have an alternate way of getting home so that they may do so safely. Taking public transportation, carpooling or having a trusted friend or relative pick you up from work are just a few ways that you can avoid putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk of a car accident.
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If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at DiTomaso Law today. We will work hard to ensure that you secure the financial compensation you deserve. Start a free review of your case today by contacting us online or calling 866-367-5377.