Archive for November, 2013

Night-Shift Workers at Risk of Accidents: What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

A 25-year-old woman was killed in a Columbia traffic accident this November as she was heading home from work at approximately 5:00 a.m.  According to WISTV, the accident is still under investigation and it is not clear why the woman’s vehicle veered off the road, hitting both a tree and a utility pole. 

While there are many reasons why this young victim may have become involved in this deadly crash, any car accident attorney in Columbia SC knows that individuals who work nights and who come home in the early hours of the morning are at serious risk of becoming involved in an auto accident as a result of such a work schedule.

Night-Shift Workers Face Dangers on the Road

According to the American Psychological Association, almost 15 million Americans either work a permanent job on the night shift or rotate into a position that requires at least periodic work at night. Many of the individuals who take these jobs do not have time to adjust their sleep schedules or take the work because they need the money regardless of whether they find themselves overtired.

Unfortunately, the APA indicates that many of these workers are at serious risk because their circadian clock is off. The circadian clock is essentially a timer within the body that controls the release of certain hormones and that controls alertness, mood, body temperature and other aspects of your daily cycle. Based on the circadian clock and on your body chemistry, the body will naturally start to relax after dark and become more alert once morning comes.

For those who work third shift jobs, who work overnight and who are coming home in the early morning like the recent accident victim, this natural body process of relaxing for the evening is a problematic. As the American Psychological Association points out, working against your natural sleep cycle and reflexes can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, delayed reflexes, warped perspective, difficulty making decisions and decreased immune function.

All of this means that a driver who works nights is more likely to suffer from excessive sleepiness or insomnia. Drivers who suffer from these types of disorders and drivers who try to drive home early in the morning after working all night are more likely to nod off behind the wheel and are thus more likely to become involved in drowsy driving accidents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide some tips for shift workers to reduce the risk of accidents. The CDC recommends:

  • Making sure you leave sufficient time to get sleep after working a night shift.
  • Avoiding alcohol or heavy foods before going to sleep and reducing the use of stimulants several hours before trying to sleep so you do not interfere with your sleep schedule.
  • Sleeping someplace dark, cool and quiet to make it possible to fall asleep quickly and remain asleep for a full night’s rest.
  • Getting help from a healthcare provider if you are having a hard time getting to sleep.

By following these tips, hopefully the risks that shift workers face on the road can be reduced.

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC can help auto accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705 today for a free case consultation.