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Sleep deprivation can cause accidents on our roadways

I think most people can make it through a work day with a headache, but it's really hard to stay awake when we are exhausted. There is a study that just came out that those in the trucking industry who drive while sleepy, report that their sleepiness affects their job performance at least once a week. Not the most reassuring statistic for other drivers on the road who want to avoid accidents.

The study revealed that people in transportation industries where their sleep habits may vary like, pilots, truck drivers, rail workers, bus, taxi and limousine drivers have slower reaction times, decreased attention and problems learning new information on the job, as well as processing that information.

The survey was conducted by the National Sleep Foundation and they compared the sleep habits of transportation workers to other adults. They found that both groups get similar amounts of sleep but that the difference is that their work schedules vary. The more people are on a regular wake and sleep time schedule, the more awake a person is. If the schedule is varied because of working day and night shifts, the sleep cycle gets disrupted and the sleep that a person does get is lighter and that person may feel sleepier during the daytime.

Along with the varying work schedules, transportation workers on average have long work shifts. Truck drivers averaged 10.1 hours compared with 8.5 hours for non-transportation workers.

Researchers want the results of their study to raise public awareness about the need for more sleep among transportation workers. They feel that this study proves that there is a need to work with the transportation industry to develop changes in work habits so that these workers are getting the sleep they need in order to perform their jobs proficiently and safely.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "One in Five Pilots Reports a Serious Error Related to Sleepiness," Andrea Petersen, Mar. 5, 2012

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