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Shift worker are more likely to put themselves at risk whilst driving study

Margaret Jack  By Margaret Jack   |   Posted in Sleep Research   |   Last updated: Thursday 11th October 2012

A study in Melbourne has found that workers are putting themselves and others at risk by driving home after a night shift.

Researchers from the Institute for Breathing and Sleep at Austin Health carried out their research by putting workers through simulated driving tests immediately after they had finished a night shift.

The results found their ability to control a vehicle was drastically impaired. The workers ability to drive in a straight line and stick to the speed limit deteriorated. This showed that there was a much higher crash risk in people driving home after a night shift.

In the study they also evaluated the impact on workers if they took a nap during or after a night shift. Taking a nap wouldn't reduce the risk of having a crash completely back to a normal level, but it would improve the driver's performance slightly. The lead researcher Dr Howard suggested that the best thing to do was have a nap in the afternoon before the night shift and during the shift in the early hours.

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