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Drowsiness common among rideshare drivers

Every year in Georgia and across the U.S., drowsy driving leads to about 328,000 accidents according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of those, approximately 109,000 result in injuries and 6,400 in a fatality. "Reduce fatigued-related accidents" is one of the 10 goals listed in the 2017-2018 Most Wanted List from the National Transportation Safety Board.

A position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that drowsy driving is an inherent risk in one particular industry: ridesharing. The AASM calls for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to collaborate with government officials, law enforcement and medical professionals to address what is clearly a public safety hazard.

The reasons for this inherent risk are several. Many rideshare drivers, sometimes prompted by the low fare and lack of salary incentives, work long hours and often drive late at night or early in the morning when sleepiness is at its peak. As many drivers are independent contractors, they are never screened for conditions that can contribute to drowsy driving like sleep apnea.

Uber mandated back in February that all drivers go offline for 6 consecutive hours after 12 duty hours; Lyft also has a similar requirement. The AASM states that these hours are not enough because many drivers hold multiple jobs, even with multiple ridesharing companies.

Since drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles, they will be to blame for any accidents they cause through drowsy driving. Victims may be able to file an auto accident claim to be reimbursed for medical bills, pain and suffering and other losses, but having legal assistance is recommended. A lawyer may back up the claim with the help of investigators and other third parties. The client might also discuss with the lawyer whether to go through a civil trial or opt for an out-of-court settlement.

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