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Study finds many truck drivers don't get enough sleep

Many people in San Diego, California, have so much to accomplish in their daily lives that they often end up neglecting a very important facet of their health: sleep. For many workers, being drowsy at work might mean being less productive or making more errors. For those of us with jobs that are concentrated mainly behind a desk, this is perhaps an inconvenience but not a hazard. However, the same cannot be said for those who drive for a living.

In a troubling new national study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, investigators found that many transportation operators, including truck drivers, airline pilots and train engineers, are sleepier than their counterparts in the workforce. This is an obvious hazard for truck drivers especially, as drowsy driving could result in a serious car accident for an innocent motorist.

The study found that 14 percent of tractor-trailer drivers had made or nearly made a serious error or had an accident as a result as a result of drowsy driving. In recent months attempts have been made to more closely regulate the industry to head off accidents, including new hours of service rules that apply to big-rig drivers.

The maximum work week for truck drivers is now 70 hours, 12 hours less than what it had been. However, this is still considerably more than what most workers put in during a given work week. Truck drivers do report taking lots of naps while on the clock, however: 42 percent say they recently took a nap on the job. Unfortunately, that is likely not enough to counteract the potential danger to California motorists from sleepy truck drivers.

Source: The Washington Times, "Not getting enough rest a problem for operators of planes, trains, trucks," Ben Wolfgang, Mar. 6, 2012

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