Sleepy Pilots, Train Operators and Drivers

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Date:
Thursday, March 1, 2012

sleep satisfaction, with about one-third (29%) saying they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep on work nights.

 

“The margin of error in these professions is extremely small. Transportation professionals need to manage sleep to perform at their best,” says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. “As individuals and employers, we need to know more about how sleep improves performance.”

 

Sleepiness is common for all workers.

Roughly one in ten Americans say they are likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate time and place, such as during a meeting or while driving.  The poll included a validated assessment tool used by doctors to determine whether a person is “sleepy.” Anyone who suffers from excessive sleepiness should seek professional help to identify underlying conditions.  This study finds that 11% of pilots, train operators, bus, taxi, and limo drivers and 8% of truck drivers as well as 7% of non-transportation workers are “sleepy.”

 

“We found that although pilots are especially focused on obtaining adequate sleep, one in ten can still be classified as ‘sleepy.’ This is not acceptable. Who among us wants to take a one in ten chance of flying on a plane with a sleepy pilot?” says CPT Edward Edens, PhD of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.  

A sleepy transportation worker is far more prone to mistakes: sleepy transportation workers report job performance problems about three times more often and report averaging about 45 minutes less sleep per night than their non-sleepy peers.

Significant number of transportation workers say their schedules do not allow enough time for sleep.

Many transportation workers cite their schedule as a major contributor to sleep problems. Almost one-half of train operators (44%) and more than one-third of pilots (37%) report that their current work schedule does not allow adequate time for sleep, compared to about one-fourth of non-transportation workers and truck drivers (27% each) and one-fifth of bus, taxi and limo drivers (20%).

In general, transportation professionals work more varied shifts than other workers, which may play a role in their sleep problems. Only 6% of