Sleepiness, shift work and sleep related road crashes


Sleepiness is an important and often underestimated factor in the occurrence of motor vehicle and work-related incidents, contributing to approximately 15-20% of global road traffic crashes. Increased sleepiness has been shown to impair reaction time, vigilance, and cognitive decision making, skills which are vital to safety critical tasks such as driving. Sleep related crashes have been shown to be prevalent in shift workers due to a combination of work and home related factors, impacting sleep and resulting in increased sleepiness. Night workers especially are required to be alert and perform duties during times of decreased alertness, often then commuting home, increasing their risk of a sleep related crash. It is important that responsibility for sleep related crashes and workplace incidents is shared between the employer and employee. While individuals have a responsibility to ensure they are rested for work and adequately alert to drive, if shift schedules and patterns result in extended work periods and reduced opportunities to rest, individuals may experience excessive workplace or driver sleepiness despite their best attempts to manage their rest. Establishing an open culture environment within the workplace to encourage discussions relating to sleepiness as well as providing education relating to causes and consequences of sleepiness is an important initiative. Individuals may therefore be encouraged to report instances of sleepiness, reducing the risk of sleepiness related accidents, incidents and crashes

Journal of Personal Injury Law