Our Georgia tractor-trailer accident attorneys recently reported driver fatigue is a leading cause of commercial driving accidents. While the National Sleep Foundation has declared Nov. 12-18 Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, a study published by the foundation this summer reveals it’s the nation’s transportation workers who may be most at risk.
One-fourth of train operators and pilots admitted that sleepiness affects their performance on the job at least once a week! Even more troubling, 1 in 5 pilots and 1 in 6 truck drivers and train operators say they’ve made a serious error or been involved in a “near miss” because of fatigue.
Transportation workers are also at six times higher risk of being involved in an accident while commuting to and from work! And about half report dissatisfaction with sleep, saying they rarely or never get a good night’s sleep.
“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,” said Dr. Sanjay Patel, of Harvard Medical School.
It’s really no surprise such workers would be at increased risk. Many transportation professionals find themselves on strange shifts, or working through the night. In this study, nearly half of such workers reported problems in getting enough sleep were created by their work schedule.
“The margin of error in these professions is extremely small,” noted David Cloud, CEO of the NSF. “Transportation professionals need to manage sleep to perform at their best.”
About half these transportation workers report taking regular naps — a rate twice that of non-transportation workers and further evidence that the impact of such interruption in sleep cycles should not be disregarded. And, as we reported recently on our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Blog, truckers diagnosed with sleep apnea or other health conditions also face increased risks.
Fatigued transportation workers are more prone to making mistakes and are about three times more likely to have performance problems at work.
Drowsy Driving Prevention – Tips for the Pros
-Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day if at all possible.
-Use bright lights to help manage body clock.
-Use a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as a warm bath.
-Don’t remain in bed longer than necessary. And reserve the bedroom for a place of sleep.
-Create a warm, quiet, dark bedroom environment conducive to sleep.
-Get medical help for excessive snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness or other signs a sleep disorder may be impacting your ability to get proper rest.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the rest of us are immune from the risks, particularly as we head into the busy holiday shopping and travel season. Young drivers under the age of 25 continue to be at particularly high risk — accounting for about half of all drowsy driving crashes. Talk to your friends and family this week about the risks. With early dark, we all need to do our part to stay safe on the roads.