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Sleep deprivation a danger among ridesharing drivers

Compelled by low wages and salary incentives, ridesharing drivers in North Carolina tend to work long hours and run the risk of sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, many dismiss the need for adequate sleep and continue to endanger themselves and others on the road. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine brought attention to the issue of drowsy rideshare drivers in a position statement made in April 2018. The academy called it a public safety risk.

The ridesharing industry has responded with some measures. For example, Uber requires that its drivers go offline for six straight hours after working a total of 12 hours. Lyft has the same regulation but after 14 hours. According to the AASM, these measures are inadequate because they don't prevent drivers from working when sleepiness peaks (that is, in the morning and at night) or from holding multiple jobs.

The AASM calls for collaborative efforts between ridesharing companies, government officials, law enforcement and medical professionals toward a reduction of fatigue-related crashes. Drowsy driving is one of the top 10 critical changes mentioned in the 2017-2018 Most Wanted List by the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to AAA estimates, drowsy driving is behind an average of 328,000 car crashes every year. Of these, 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 lead to fatalities. Conditions like obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to drowsiness, but independent contractors like ridesharing drivers cannot be screened for it.

Drowsiness impairs attention and raises the risk for car accidents. Someone who has been hurt by the actions of a drowsy driver may want to have their case assessed by a lawyer. Legal counsel could potentially start negotiations with the auto insurance company.

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