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Study: Night shift workers more likely to doze at the wheel

New research from Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital shows that those who work night shifts may be at a higher risk for accidents.
Study: Drowsy driving and night shifts 01:46

Those who commute by car often face another danger: drowsy drivers. A report out Monday found drivers getting off the night shift could be an accident waiting to happen.

A drowsy driver swerves on the road

One man just coming off of a night shift veered all over the road. Nearly half of the night shift workers tested almost crashed.

"They were crossing over the middle line, they were having trouble. More than 40 percent of the drivers had to be terminated because it was judged to be unsafe," said Dr. Charles Czeisler, who worked on the study.

More than half the workers tested said they nodded off behind the wheel at least once a week on their way home. And they did no better in the tests.

"They knew they were being watched and yet even in that context, they couldn't stay awake while they were driving in a simulation of their commute home from work," said Dr. Czeisler

Dallas-area convenience store manager Shariq Khan starts work at 11 p.m. and works through the night. "Sometimes when I get off from job, when I drive back home I feel like I'm falling asleep," said Khan.

He believes the lack of sleep led to him having a couple of minor accidents.

Shariq Khan works nights and often feels sleepy when he leaves work CBS News

The researchers suggest night shift workers like Khan skip driving and find another way home, but his area lacks public transportation.

"There's no alternative," said Khan. "There's no bus or train service up there, and I can't afford a taxi every day.

Researchers say night shift workers are fighting their own natural sleep patterns, and they can't sleep as well during the day no matter how much they try. They lose about two hours of sleep a day, and after a few days they have lost the equivalent of a whole night's sleep.

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