Sleepy Pilots, Train Operators and Drivers

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Date:
Thursday, March 1, 2012

National Sleep Foundation Poll Explores Transportation Workers’ Sleep

pilotWASHINGTON, DC, March 3, 2012 – The people we trust to take us or our loved ones from place to place struggle with sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) 2012 Sleep in America ® poll.  It is the first poll to ask transportation professionals, including pilots, train operators,* truck, bus, taxi and limo drivers about their sleep habits and work performance.

Pilots and train operators are most likely to report sleep-related job performance and safety problems.

The results of the poll are striking. About one-fourth of train operators (26%) and pilots (23%) admit that sleepiness has affected their job performance at least once a week, compared to about one in six non-transportation workers (17%).

Perhaps more disturbingly, a significant number say that sleepiness has caused safety problems on the job. One in five pilots (20%) admit that they have made a serious error and one in six train operators (18%) and truck drivers (14%) say that they have had a “near miss” due to sleepiness.

Sleepiness has also played a role in car accidents commuting to and from work. Pilots and train operators are significantly more likely than non-transportation workers (6% each, compared to 1%) to say that they have been involved in a car accident due to sleepiness while commuting.

“Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness,” says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.  “We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers.”

 

Train operators and pilots report most sleep dissatisfaction.

Among all workers surveyed, train operators and pilots report the most work day sleep dissatisfaction. Almost two-thirds of train operators (57%) and one-half of pilots (50%) say they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on work nights, compared to 44% of truck drivers and 42% of non-transportation workers. Bus, taxi, and limo drivers report the best work day