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Study examines link between night shifts and drowsy driving

Imagine how you feel after a night of not getting enough sleep at night. You can feel anxious, foggy, cranky and just generally out of sorts. Even when you drink a lot of coffee or do whatever you can to stay awake, the moment you slow down and rest, your body often goes right back to craving the rest it missed out on.

This is the vicious cycle people can experience when they are chronically sleep deprived or fatigued as a result of working during periods of time when they would otherwise be sleeping. And it's putting them and others in danger. According to a recent study on drowsy driving, night-shift workers are at a higher risk for causing serious car crashes than other drivers.

The recent study, conducted earlier this year, found that drivers fatigued due to night-shift work are about 38 percent more likely to get in near-accidents. The accidents were avoided thanks to someone in the passenger seat who could engage the emergency break.

The study also revealed that drivers fatigued by night-shift work often fail to keep adequate control of a vehicle, and more than 43 percent of the drives conducted had to be stopped early for this reason.

What these results mean for drivers in Georgia is that a large percentage of night-shift workers are impaired by drowsiness when they finish work and get on the road to head home. However, there are ways to prevent accidents.

Workers could carpool with someone else to keep them alert and potentially compensate if the driver starts losing focus while driving. It could also be a wise decision to get a few hours of rest before getting behind the wheel if at all possible. Study authors also suggest that keeping post-night-shift drives as short as possible could reduce the chances of a crash.

This can all be good information for drivers to have, particularly those who are heading to work early in the morning when night-shift workers may be heading home. In the event that a fatigued or sleeping driver causes a crash, he or she can and should be held accountable for the damages suffered by victims.

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