Drowsy driving accidents in Florida and around the country injure tens of thousands of road users each year, often fatally, and the results of a 2021 study suggest that these collisions are often caused by motorists who suffer from a medical condition known as shift work sleep disorder. SWSD is caused by working shifts that interrupt the body’s natural sleep patterns, which can lead to chronic fatigue and drowsiness behind the wheel.
To find out just how dangerous SWSD can make driving, researchers from the University of Missouri checked data collected by a federal highway research program between 2006 and 2015. After scrutinizing the information, the researchers determined that a motorist suffering from the condition was about 300% more likely to crash. Other sleep-related conditions like insomnia or apnea are thought to increase the likelihood of an accident by roughly 30%. Accident reports also suggest that the dangers of SWSD increase significantly with age.
Millions at risk
These are troubling findings because figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that more than 25 million Americans work the type of non-daytime schedules that can cause SWSD. This means millions of vehicles in all parts of the country and at all times of the day are being driven by people who are dangerously fatigued and could cause car accidents at any moment. The study was published in the journal Safety Science in August 2021.
Public awareness is needed
The fight against drunk driving has taught lawmakers that public awareness does more to solve society’s ills than harsh laws and tough sentences. When motorists understand that operating a vehicle while tired is just as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs, drowsy driving will become a far less serious problem.