Thousands of Virginia residents work a night shift schedule. While they may adjust to the odd hours, they still run a higher risk of traffic accidents than other drivers. Hitting the road before or after an overnight shift can lead to drowsy drivers with impaired abilities.
The dangers of shift work sleep disorder
Your body is naturally attuned to a daytime schedule. As the sun rises or sets, your brain releases hormones that tell you to wake up or prepare for sleep. Working overnight disrupts this pattern, forcing you to stay awake when your body wants to rest.
Shift work sleep disorder (SWSD) can result from maintaining a nighttime work schedule. People with SWSD have trouble with their sleep cycles. It can be challenging to fall and stay asleep for an entire cycle.
SWSD causes drowsiness at inappropriate times and trouble with concentration. People with this condition are three times more likely to be involved in car accidents than other drivers.
Signs of drowsy driving
Drowsy driving greatly increases the risk of an automobile collision. Tiredness impacts your reaction speed, concentration and judgment. Signs of a drowsy driver include:
• Drifting and hitting rumble strips
• Missed exits
• Frequent yawning
• Nodding or other trouble keeping your head up
• Wandering thoughts
Strategies for safety
Nighttime workers should take SWSD into consideration as they think about their commutes. Ideally, they can find an alternative way to get to their workplace without driving themselves. Public transportation and ride services are safer options.
Workplaces can also help prevent unsafe driving. They might dedicate some space where employees can rest a little before getting into their cars. Closing their eyes for a few minutes will help them feel more alert as they head home.
If you feel in danger of drowsy driving, it is critical that you get off the road soon to get some rest. Avoiding an accident is more important than getting to your destination on time.