The Danger of Sleepiness

For the first time, the National Sleep Foundation recently conducted a poll analyzing transportation workers’ sleep. Train operators, truck drivers, pilots and public transportation specialists, such as bus drivers, taxi drivers, and limousine drivers, confirm that sleep problems impact their job performance.

In an industry where safety depends on its workers, these findings regarding work and sleep reveal a serious problem.

Train Operators

According to the poll, train operators experience the greatest issues concerning sleep and the impact it has on their lives and job performance.

  • 44% state that their weekday routines do not allow for adequate sleep.
  • Considering that 14% of train operators were diagnosed with a sleep disorder, it is not surprising that they share the top spot for instances of nightly snoring and waking up “unrefreshed.”
  • 26% of train operators report sleepiness impacting their job performance at least once a week.
  • 18 % attribute a “near miss” accident at work to sleepiness.

Truck Drivers

Along with train operators, truck drivers also find sleepiness impacts their work performance. Truck drivers rank with the train operators for nightly snoring.

  • 11% have sleep disorders.
  • 15% of truck drivers said that sleepiness impacted their job performance at least once a week.
  • 14% documented “near miss” accidents while at work.


Pilots, like train operators, agree that their workday routines do not allow for proper sleep. Because of this, they rank at the top with train operators for waking up feeling “unrefreshed.” This sleepiness directly affects their job performance.

  • 5% suffer from a diagnosed sleep disorder.
  • 23% report sleepiness impacting job performance at least once a week.
  • Unlike those occupations with “near misses,” 20% associate sleepiness with serious errors committed at work.

Public Transportation Specialists

While public transportation specialists have shorter workdays than their peers in the study, results still show sleepiness affects job performance.

  • 18% report getting less sleep than they need during the workweek
  • 5% report having sleeping disorders.
  • 10% believe sleep impacts their job performance
  • 12% associate a “near miss” at work with their sleepiness.