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Drowsiness a public safety risk in ridesharing industry

Ridesharing drivers in Missouri may feel encouraged to work extended hours because of the low fare and salary incentives, but they will want to be careful about exceeding their safety limits. A position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has brought some needed attention to the risk of sleep deprivation among people in the industry.

Many of them drive during the early mornings and late into the night after a long period of wakefulness, which only increases the chances of driving drowsy. Since in most cases they are independent contractors, they do not get screened for conditions like obstructive sleep apnea that will compound those chances.

Drowsy driving is a widespread issue, contributing to an average of 328,000 car crashes every year in the U.S., according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of those, 109,000 are injury-related and 64,000 end in a fatality. Lowering fatigue-related accident rates was among the top 10 goals that the National Transportation Safety Board laid out in its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List. Ridesharing companies have made some moves to better ensure safety. For example, Uber requires its drivers to go offline for six hours after driving for 12 hours. Lyft requires the same thing after 14 hours. Drivers can take advantage of the Awake at the Wheel campaign to discover the warning signs of drowsiness.

Drivers who continue to underrate sleep and push themselves to the point of sleepiness will in most cases be responsible for any car accidents they cause. Occupants of other vehicles who have been injured in such a crash might want to have legal assistance when pursuing compensation for their medical bills and other losses.

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