1-in-5 pilots cite sleep lack in errors

March 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

BOSTON, March 8 (UPI) -- Twenty percent of U.S. airline pilots admit they have made a serious error while flying due to sleepiness, researchers found.

Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said sleepiness has played a role in car crashes involving pilots commuting to and from work. Six percent of pilots and 6 percent of train operators said they were involved in a car crash due to sleepiness while commuting, compared to 1 percent of non-transportation workers.

"Driving home from work after a long shift is associated with crashes due to sleepiness," Patel said in a statement. "We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers."

The study found 18 percent of train operators and 14 percent of truck drivers said they have had a close call on the road due to sleepiness.

The National Sleep Foundation's 2012 Sleep in America poll asked transportation professionals -- including pilots, train operators, truck, bus, taxi and limo drivers -- about their sleep habits and work performance.

About one-fourth of train operators and pilots admit sleepiness affected their job performance at least once a week, compared to 17 percent of non-transportation workers. Roughly 10 percent Americans said they were likely to fall asleep at an inappropriate time and place, such as a meeting or driving, the study said.

Almost one-half of train operators and more than one-third of pilots said their work schedule did not allow adequate time for sleep, Patel said.

The survey of 1,087 U.S. adults age 25 and older -- 795 transportation workers and 292 non-transportation workers -- has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Trending Stories
TSU shooting: 1 dead, 1 wounded in third shooting this week at Houston campus
Listeria threat prompts Whole Foods cheese recall
Russia says missiles aimed at Syria did not land in Iran
Captive orca breeding banned at California's SeaWorld
Wrong drug used in Oklahoma execution