Drowsy Driving: 14% of truck drivers report 'near misses' because of sleepiness

The trucking industry is how America moves product and our freeways are packed with 18 wheelers.

Michael Whately has been driving trucks for 25 years and has seen just about everything and those long hours and endless trips can be exhausting.

“Yea, you’ve just got to pull over,” Michael said. “Get out and walk around the truck and let the air hit you and go on to the next one, call it quits.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2012 Sleep in America poll–transportation workers aren’t getting enough quality sleep.

20% of pilots say they’ve made a serious error because of a lack of sleep while 18% of train operators and 14% of truck drivers say they’ve had near misses because of sleepiness.

Sleep expert Nabeel Farah said the trucking business is inherently unhealthy–long hours, fast food and drivers sleeping in their trucks is a recipe for poor sleep.

“One of the risk factors of sleep apnea is obesity and if you look at the incidence of obesity, in say truck drivers, it’s very high and so if you have a high percentage of obesity you’re going to have a high percentage of obstructive sleep apnea,” Dr. Farah said.

Poor sleep can lead to an increased risk of diabetes, heart problems, depression and drug abuse.

Dr. Farah said the number of sleepy drivers is probably under-reported because when he asks them how sleepy they are they say they’re not.

“You’ll never find a truck driver who is sleepy,” Dr. Farah said. “They’ll never admit that they’re sleepy because there is a real sort of fear of losing their job if they’re sleepy.”

Michael said he does everything he can to make sure he gets enough sleep–after all–he has keep an eye on the rest of us who don’t get enough sleep.

“Well, they get right about here and they just change lanes and almost take the bumper off,” Michael said.  “It’s a tough industry.”

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Source: CW33

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