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In April 2018, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine called sleep deprivation in the ridesharing industry a public safety risk. Its position statement made some points that should be of interest to all motorists in Missouri. Sleep deprivation leads to alterations in the body’s circadian rhythm that can cause sharper peaks of sleepiness in the early mornings and late nights.

Unfortunately, many ridesharing drivers undervalue sleep and overwork themselves. Low fares and salary incentives factor into the trend as well. Some drivers may suffer from conditions that reduce attentiveness, such as obstructive sleep apnea. However, since they are independent contractors, they’re never screened for such conditions.

Uber and Lyft put the limit at 12 and 14 hours of work, respectively, for their drivers. Once they reach their limit, drivers must go offline for six consecutive hours. The AASM states that this is inadequate for addressing drowsy driving because it does nothing to stop drivers from working during those peak periods of sleepiness or from holding multiple jobs (which many do).

Instead, the academy is calling for collaborative efforts between ridesharing companies, government officials, medical experts and law enforcement officers. One step is to educate drivers on the dangers of drowsiness. For example, the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has a campaign called Awake at the Wheel that explains the warning signs of drowsiness.

An individual who has been hurt in a crash caused by a drowsy driver may be able to recover damages by filing a personal injury claim. However, the victim might need a crash reconstruction done and have medical experts measure the extent of their injuries. This is why legal representation is so important. A lawyer can hire the necessary third parties and then negotiate for the settlement, litigating as a last resort.