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Poll finds that many truck drivers are sleep deprived

We commonly discuss tragic accidents involving semi trucks. What's perhaps even more bothersome is that many of these accidents are preventable. In fact, one of the most common causes of trucking accidents is a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel.

According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, fatigue is a problem among many truckers. The poll found that one in ten transportation workers, including truck drivers, could be dangerously sleep deprived.

The poll also found that while 7 percent of non-transportation workers reported being sleepy on the job, 11 percent of transportation workers admitted the same.

Experts say that the non-traditional work schedules of workers in transportation industries, including truckers, pilots, bus drivers and train operators, is likely responsible for the problem.

They say that even if the workers manage to stay awake, sleepiness can lead to slower reaction times, inattention and problems processing information, which puts many lives in danger.

Of the nearly 1,100 pilots, truck drivers, train operators and other transportation professionals who were polled, 50 percent of pilots and 57 percent of train operators admitted to rarely or never getting decent sleep on nights they work. Forty-four percent of truck drivers admitted the same.

Additionally, 20 percent of pilots and 14 percent of truck drivers admitted to committing a "serious error" or a "near miss" while sleepy on the job. Sleep experts say that changing the work schedules of transposition professionals may help with the drowsiness.

"Employers should put more effort into designing work/rest schedules that facilitate sleep and minimize workers' exposure to irregular, variable schedule changes," a sleep researcher and professor from the University of Denver Intermodal Transportation Institute suggested.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Many Pilots, Truck Drivers Sleep-Deprived, Survey Finds," March 4, 2012

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