Night Shifts and The Increase Of Car Accidents

Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps. Shift workers and tourists are behind the wheels of cars in Las Vegas at all hours of the day and night. Unfortunately, this creates a risk of car accidents caused by drowsy drivers whose judgment and reactions are impaired by fatigue.

Was the drowsy driver who caused the Las Vegas car accident that injured you impaired by lack of sleep? It’s certainly possible. Las Vegas has a larger presence of people working the third shift or overnight than elsewhere in Nevada. Recent research says the risk of drowsy driving accidents is heightened among those who work the overnight shift or alternating day and night shifts.

Shift Work Sleep Disorder Puts Night Shift Workers at Risk of Car Accidents

“Car and Driver” magazine recently wrote about shift work sleep disorder (SWSD), which commonly affects people who work through the night instead of at a traditional nine-to-five job. It quotes a Cleveland Clinic study that says around 20% of the full-time workforce in the U.S. does some sort of shift work. Among shift workers, 10% to 40% may suffer from a sleep disorder.

The sleep disorder causes difficulties adjusting to a different sleep/wake schedule, which results in significant problems falling asleep and staying asleep. The most common symptoms of SWSD are difficulty sleeping and excessive drowsiness. Other symptoms associated with SWSD may include difficulty concentrating, headaches, or lack of energy.

Researchers at the University of Missouri looked through real-world data — crash and near-crash reports from approximately 2,000 traffic incidents in six states — and discovered that people with shift work sleep disorder are 300% more likely to be in a crash or a near-crash.

Dr. David Park, who was chair of the primary care department at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2014 that he frequently saw patients from the all-night casino or entertainment industry who suffered from shift work sleep disorder. They included casino dealers, bartenders, servers, and VIP casino hosts.

In addition to casino workers and hospitality industry workers, Las Vegas’s late shift workforce includes police officers, firefighters, ambulance personnel, hospital workers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and store clerks. Workers who are driving at hours of the night when they are normally asleep are at greater risk of drowsy driving accidents.

Nighttime and Drowsy Driving Car Accidents by the Numbers

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that in 2017, 91,000 police-reported crashes involved drowsy drivers or people who were driving while sleepy or fatigued. These crashes led to an estimated 50,000 people injured and nearly 800 deaths.

In 2020, there were 697 automotive fatalities involving drowsy drivers or 1.9 percent of all fatalities, NHTSA says.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Traffic Safety Crash Facts says nearly two-thirds of all fatal car accidents in Nevada from 2015 to 2019 happened in Clark County.

More than one-third of all fatal crashes in the state took place late at night or in the early morning, with:

  • 15% between 9 p.m. and 11:59 p.m.
  • 9% between midnight and 2:59 a.m.
  • 10% between 3 a.m. and 5:59 a.m.

During the same nighttime hours (9 p.m. to 5:59 a.m.), 57% of all fatal crashes in which vehicle occupants were not wearing seat belts took place.

How To Avoid Shift Work Sleep Disorder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WebMD have also written about shift work sleep disorder. Though the CDC says there is no single ideal strategy to address the risks of every demanding shift-work situation, the CDC offers tips for avoiding SWSD:

  • Try to avoid working several night shifts in a row. You’re more likely to recover if you can schedule days off in between.
  • If possible, avoid night shifts that exceed eight hours and design shift schedules with frequent rest breaks.
  • Keep your workplace brightly lighted to promote alertness.
  • Limit caffeine intake. Drinking a cup of coffee at the beginning of your shift will help promote alertness. But if you consume caffeine later in the shift, you may have trouble falling asleep when you get home.
  • Avoid long commutes that take time away from sleeping.
  • Stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule as much as you can. Take a long nap before a night shift begins.
  • Use blackout blinds or heavy curtains to block sunlight when you sleep during the day.

Hit by a Drowsy Driver at Night? Contact Our Trusted Car Accident Lawyers Today

If you have been injured in a car accident in Las Vegas that may have been caused by a driver who was impaired by lack of sleep, you should contact an experienced drowsy driving car accident lawyer at Sam & Ash Injury Law as soon as possible. It is understood and supported by research that people who work overnight shifts have a higher likelihood of being dangerously fatigued. After a suspected drowsy driving accident, the at-fault driver’s work records and other evidence can show that they should not have been driving.

At Sam & Ash Injury Law, we have the experience and resources to determine whether shift work sleep disorder played a role in the accident that injured you. If a driver who was struggling to stay awake caused a crash that injured you, Sam & Ash can pursue compensation to cover your medical bills and other expenses related to the accident.

Call us today or contact us online for a free review of the car crash that injured you and an explanation of your legal options. We stand up for What’s Right for innocent car accident victims.