Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Penn researchers find many commercial drivers have impaired performance due to lack of sleep

Researchers suggest specific steps for the trucking industry to take to improve safety for everyone on our roads
Truck drivers who routinely get too little sleep or suffer from sleep apnea show signs of fatigue and impaired performance that can make them a hazard on the road, according to a major new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The study results are published in the August 15th issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

This study is among the largest and most comprehensive studies of truck drivers and fatigue ever done. Penn researchers examined 406 truck drivers and found that those who routinely slept less than five hours a night were likely to fare poorly on tests designed to measure sleepiness, attention and reaction time, and steering ability. Drivers with severe sleep apnea, a medical condition that causes a poor quality of sleep, also were sleepy and had performance impairment.

Allan Pack, MB, ChB, PhD, who headed the study, said the tired truck drivers had impaired performance similar to that of drivers who are legally drunk. "We identified some very impaired people," said Pack, a sleep expert who directs Penn's Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology.

Nearly five percent of the truckers had severe sleep apnea (a condition in which someone stops breathing often during sleep), and about 13 percent of the drivers got fewer than five hours of sleep a night on a regular basis. "There are daytime neurobehavioral performance impairments that are found commonly in commercial drivers, and these are more likely among those who get an average of five or less hours of sleep a night and those who suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea," the researchers concluded.

To measure the impact of fatigue on driver performance and safety, Penn researchers sent questionnaires to 4,826 truck drivers who had commercial licenses and lived within 50 miles of the Penn sleep centers. After getting complete responses from 1,329 drivers, they focused on 247 drivers at high risk for sleep apnea and 159 drivers at low risk.

The truck drivers, almost all men and on average 45 years old, were given wrist motion detection devices to measure how much they slept during a week. They then were put through a battery of tests at the sleep center. The drivers were monitored in the sleep lab while they slept to see if they had sleep apnea. About 28 percent of the drivers were found to have some degree of sleep apnea, with nearly five percent of them having a severe case.

Three tests were then given to measure daytime sleepiness and performance. The drivers were put in a dark room and observed to see how long it took them to doze off. Drivers who logged less than five hours of sleep dozed-off more quickly than those who got seven to eight hours of sleep. Drivers with severe sleep apnea also dozed-off more rapidly. A lab test to analyze attention and reaction time and another to gauge "lane tracking ability" also turned up performance impairment among the sleep-deprived.

When the results were compiled, investigators discovered:

  • Just over five percent of drivers showed impairment on all three performance-related tests.
  • Nearly 60 percent did not fare well by at least one measure.
  • About half of the drivers who got less than five hours of sleep had two or three impairments. That's compared to 10 percent of driver who got more than eight hours of sleep regularly.
  • Likewise, about 60 percent of the drivers with severe sleep apnea had two or three impairments.

According to the journal article, about 5,600 people are killed each year in the U.S. in crashes involving commercial trucks. Many of the crashes happen when the driver falls asleep at the wheel. Penn researchers are now suggesting specific steps for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to take to improve safety for everyone on our roads:

  • Develop strategies to identify impaired drivers through objective testing.
  • Implement programs to identify and test drivers with severe sleep apnea and monitor that they stick to their treatment.
  • And introduce programs to assess and promote longer durations of sleep among commercial drivers.

The results of this study are published in the August 15th issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. You can access the journal on-line at: . The article is titled, "Impaired Performance in Commercial Drivers: Role of Sleep Apnea and Short Sleep Duration." Other Penn researchers who worked on the study were: Greg Maislin; Bethany Staley; Frances Pack and David Dinges. William Rogers, formerly of the Trucking Research Institute, American Trucking Associations as well as Charles F. P. George of the University of Western Ontario were also involved.

Susanne Hartman | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>