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Sleep deprivation an issue in ride-sharing industry

Ride-sharing drivers in California are often endangering themselves and others by working during extended periods of wakefulness. Drowsy driving, according to estimates from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, contribute to an average of 328,000 car crashes every year in this country. Of those, 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 in at least one death.

The reasons for sleep deprivation among ride-sharing drivers are several. Many feel compelled by the low fares and salary incentives to work as long as possible. Though ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft require a six-hour break between every 12 and 14 hours of work, respectively, their drivers can circumvent the rule by holding more than one job.

Many raise their risk for a crash by working in the early morning and late at night when sleepiness peaks. Another issue is the presence of conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, which can reduce alertness. Drivers with such conditions may continue working because, being independent contractors, they know the companies generally do not require medical screenings.

For this reason, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has called drowsy driving in the ride-sharing industry a public safety risk. It calls on companies, medical experts, law enforcement and government officials to collaborate on the reduction of drowsy driving crashes. Since many ride-sharing drivers undervalue sleep, it appears that education is an essential first step.

Unfortunately, drivers will continue to think themselves safe when they are really drowsy. If this form of negligence is the cause of a car crash, victims will want to know if they are eligible for compensation. They might want to meet with an attorney to see what recourse might be available to them.

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