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Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

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bus driver, 4x3, stock

(CBS News) For those who are sleep-deprived, a nap on the commute to work may be helpful. But what about those whose job is to help others get to work safely? Many transportation workers, including bus drivers and train operators, report not getting enough sleep and being too tired at work to do their jobs properly, a new poll from the National Sleep Foundation found.

Some of the transportation workers from the poll admitted their sleepiness has caused serious errors at work. Commuters aren't the only ones who have to worry: Sleepy bus, taxi, and truck drivers could also raise the accident risk for everyone else on the road.

Which method of transportation poses the biggest threat to commuter safety? Keep clicking to see how the workers fared, ranked in order of how much their sleepiness affects their job performance...

First up: Bus, taxi, and limousine drivers

Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

Alan Turkus

Bus/taxi/limo drivers

taxi driver

Ten percent of bus, taxi and limo drivers said their sleepiness affects their job performance at least once a week. And 29 percent said they rarely get a good night's sleep on workdays. Seven percent said they have made a serious error at work due to sleep.

Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

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Truck drivers

Fifteen percent of truck drivers said sleepiness affects their job performance at least once a week. That might be because 44 percent of them report rarely getting a good night's sleep. But only 6 percent said they've ever made a serious error at work due to sleep - 14 percent of truck drivers however said they've had "near misses."

truck driver

Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

Stressed out by flying? Long lines, cramped seats, and iffy food don't seem so bad when you consider the risks faced by the folks who spend their entire working lives in and around airplanes. No wonder pilots and flight engineers land at number three on the list of deadly jobs, with 57 deaths per 100,000 workers. istockphoto

Pilots

Pilots might need turbulence to shake them awake - 23 percent of pilots said sleep affects their job performance at least once a week. One in five (20 percent) reported making a serious error at work due to sleep. And 50 percent of pilots said they rarely get a good night's sleep.

Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

A conductor on the "L" train checks the platform from mid-train as the doors close at the Broadway Junction stop, Thursday, March 24, 2005 in Brooklyn, New York. The New York City Transit Authority will begin running computer-automated trains on the 22-mile "L" subway line through Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Conductors riding in the middle cab will be phased out on targeted lines, though a train operator will continue to oversee controls in the front cab of each train. AP

Train operators

When it comes to sleep affecting job performance, 26 percent of train operators said their sleep is an issue. More than half - 57 percent - said they rarely get a good night's sleep. But only 9 percent said they'd made a serious error at work due to not getting enough sleep.


Dozing on duty: Survey finds sleepiest transportation workers

What's causing such sleepy transportation workers?

Dr. Shelby Freedman Harris, director of behavioral sleep medicine at Montefiore Medical Center's Sleep-Wake Disorders Center in New York City, told HealthPop that she thinks many of these workers suffer from a shift-work sleep disorder, and said some people are simply not cut out for jobs that rotate shifts.

"We're asking people to work when they're predisposed to being sleeping," Harris said.

She said some shifts are set up becomes especially problematic. Harris said it's ideal to work the same shift everyday to get used to a sleep schedule, but some of these workers may rotate shifts daily or weekly and never adjust. The other problem, she said, is that a many workers aren't given enough time off between shifts. Some jobs may factor in a full night's rest between shifts, but many don't build in enough time to go home, unwind, get tired, and then get a full nights' rest.

"You can't just turn the switch off that it's time to go to bed," she said.

Can anything be done to help sleepy workers on a shift schedule?

Harris says if a worker hasn't gotten used to their shift schedule, they can visit a sleep specialist who may prescribe bright light therapy, a napping schedule, or other methods to help them sleep better. She said as little as a 15-minute nap early in the shift could make a big difference in a worker's performance.

WebMD has more on shift-work sleep disorders.

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