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Ride-sharing companies urged to do more about drowsy driving

Figures from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggest that drowsy drivers are involved in almost 900 motor vehicle accidents every day, and a position statement released on April 15 by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine could prompt Georgia residents to bear this in mind the next time they use a ride-sharing service like Lyft or Uber. The professional society is concerned about the work habits of the independent contractors employed by these companies who sometimes work multiple jobs and may not begin their shifts until they have already completed a full day of work.

Uber requires its independent drivers to remain offline for at least six consecutive hours after spending 12 hours behind the wheel, and Lyft mandates the same six-hour break after 14 hours of driving. These rules are in line with the federal hours of service regulations that commercial vehicle operators must abide with, but the AASM believes they should be far stricter due to the work habits of ride-share drivers.

The problem is a serious one because fatigued drivers often greatly underestimate just how tired they really are and the car accidents they cause are frequently catastrophic. The AAA data indicates that drowsy drivers are involved in about 6,400 fatal accidents each year, and the National Transportation Safety Board considers fatigued driving to be one of the nation's most pressing road safety issues

Sleeping drivers are unable to steer or apply their brakes in emergency situations, and they are often killed in the accidents they cause as a result. However, that does not mean that those who suffered injury, loss or damage due to their negligent behavior are unable to pursue legal remedies. In situations where reckless drivers are deceased, experienced personal injury attorneys may file lawsuits against their estates or the companies that insured their vehicles.

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