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Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro
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Sleep Deprivation Causes Traffic Accidents

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This year, for the first time, the federal government has moved the switch over to daylight savings time into early March. With this change, comes the early arrival of Spring sleep deprivation. Any change can disrupt people’s sleep patterns. When sleep patterns are disrupted, a person operating a vehicle is not able to focus and concentrate as well as a person can when fully rested. As a result, there are likely to be more car crashes and other injuries while people are getting adjusted to this time change.

Sleepy drivers are more likely to made mistakes leading to motor vehicle collisions. A sleepy driver is just like a distracted driver, not able to put all of their attention to the task at hand. Although some major injuries and fatalities may be caused by people actually falling asleep at the wheel, probably even more wrecks will be caused by people simply not being as sharp as they need to be for the dangerous task of operating a motor vehicle.

In the context of the transportation industry, more and more attention is being paid to sleep problems causing injury and death. Both the trucking industry and the railroad industry have long had some rules about the number of hours of service that a person can engage in without being given rest. Recent studies have shown that the limitations previously put in were not sufficient to avoid dangerously sleepy truckers and railroad workers. Chronic sleepiness is likely responsible for many of the mistakes which occur in the transportation industry by workers. I hope that the companies or the regulators will pay sufficient attention to this issue in the future, so as to prevent avoidable injuries and deaths in the future. Because of the size of big rigs and trains, crashes caused by sleepy transportation workers pose an even bigger threat to the public than the sleepiness of your average driver . Trucks result in 100 deaths a week in crashes in the U.S. of the 800 deaths that happen each week.