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Researchers warn of risks of drowsy ridesharing drivers

Hailing a ridesharing service might provide convenience to people in South Carolina, but the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has issued a warning about the risks of driver fatigue. The academy cited the long and late at night hours often worked by ridesharing drivers as threats to public safety. These drivers, who work as independent contractors, also do not undergo any medical screening that might detect conditions associated with drowsy driving, like obstructive sleep apnea.

An associate professor of medicine who helped to author the academy's report said that the low pay and salary incentives from Uber or Lyft motivate drivers to put in dangerously long hours. These drivers might not realize that their exhaustion reduces their ability to drive safely.

Estimates from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety attribute 109,000 car accidents that cause injuries and 6,400 crashes that kill people to drowsy drivers every year. Sleep researchers consider the weak restrictions that Uber or Lyft impose on drivers insufficient to prevent fatigue. Uber and Lyft require six-hour breaks for drivers who have worked 12 and 14 hours respectively. Since many of these people might drive for both ridesharing platforms or work other jobs, they might not even actually be taking any breaks.

In the absence of strong government regulations to curtail sleepy drivers, victims of car accidents have personal injury law to support their claims for damages. The services of an attorney might be helpful to a person left with injuries and medical bills after a ridesharing accident. Such a case might involve multiple insurance companies, and a lawyer might need to file a lawsuit to determine liability for damages. With legal support, a person could learn about available insurance coverage and resist pressure to accept a low settlement.

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