One of the worse things you can do is get behind the wheel of a vehicle when you have not had enough sleep. Some studies have compared a lack of sleep to being drunk. Driver fatigue has been blamed on several accidents in the past. A little over a year ago a bus driver in New York lost control of his vehicle and crashed killing 15 of his passengers (click here for more). More and more these motorcoach drivers have to work longer hours and get less sleep because they are not making enough doing what they do. Sadly this results in more accidents. The companies that run these buses are to blame because they do not ensure that their operators are properly rested and properly compensated so they don’t have to work ridiculous hours to pay their bills.
Sleep deprivation is real thing and the effects are real. From my own personal experience as a security guard I was working and going to school. One week in particular between my scheduled shifts and my classes I was awake for a solid 20 hours without rest. When I reported to work that night I noticed that I was stumbling and slurring my words. I had not had a drop of alcohol in months so I knew something was wrong. I did some research and discovered that when the body has not had adequate rest your reaction time is severely decreased and your body actually has a blood alcohol content similar to that of someone who has had a few drinks. Click for More.
With this in mind the DOT set standards for minimum time off for commercial operators. For bus operators its a minimum of 8 hours between scheduled shifts and for semi operators its 10 hours. Now, if you think about it you aren’t going to sleep at the job so technically you aren’t getting 8 hours of rest. You have to commute home, do whatever nightly rituals you have, and then go to sleep. Then you have to wake up early enough to shower, eat breakfast, get ready for work and then drive to work. When that’s all said and done you might be getting 5 hours of rest, if you get off exactly 8 hours the previous day. That is not enough time to get adequate rest in order to be safe the following day. Unfortunately that does happen with some agencies and in some cases worse, as in the case for situation in New York and the ones who suffer the most are the operators and their passengers.
- NTSB: Fatigued driver caused deadly NY bus crash (cbsnews.com)
- NTSB: Fatigued driver caused deadly NY bus crash (newsobserver.com)
- Driver in NY bus crash may have been fatigued (kansascity.com)
- Driver in NY bus crash may have been fatigued (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Driver in NY bus crash may have been fatigued (wtvm.com)