A good night’s sleep for a hard day’s work – truck driver sleep patterns, sleepiness and work patterns
Submission Date: 2012
As part of a programme of research to understand truck driver health and well-being issues, two studies have focussed on truck driver sleep and sleepiness. In the first study within the log-transport sector, actigraph (12 drivers) and sleep diary data (45 drivers) revealed that many drivers were exhibiting fatigue risk factors including: less than six hours sleep in the past 24 hours, Less than 14 hours sleep in the last 48 hours, being awake for more than 16 hours and driving between the hours of 1-6 am. A similar study in the fuel transport sector was carried out to measure drivers? sleep patterns, perceptions of sleep, alertness and shift type effects, using a sleep diary and questionnaire (84 drivers). Many drivers demonstrated similar fatigue risk factors to the log truck drivers, although they tended to achieve slightly more sleep and report less sleepiness than log truck drivers. Practical recommendations for fatigue prevention and healthy lifestyles among drivers were also given. Overall, many drivers achieved less sleep than is optimal, and in rare instances, drivers reported very low levels of sleep (e.g. 0-3 hours sleep) per 24 hours. Drivers reported that the start of their shift rotation (first day back to work after a break) was a particularly challenging time. A number of suggestions to mitigate sleep issues, work-time sleepiness and fatigue were developed in conjunction with the companies who participated in this study. This included regular (3-4 monthly) screening for sleep and fatigue problems, taking a supportive approach and a driver “engagement? exercise (checklist, truck check or meeting) at the start of the shift rotation. Between the two studies, it is clear that truck driver sleep and sleepiness is problematic. However, there are a number of potentially effective industry led initiatives that could be trialled and implemented. Further investigation of the wider benefits and costs of implementing some of these initiatives could be carried out to determine their merits.