NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB Chairman Offers Support for National Sleep Awareness Week

March 5, 2012

WASHINGTON - For decades, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has investigated accidents and incidents, across all modes of transportation where fatigue was a causal or contributory factor. National Sleep Awareness Week (March 5-9) and the start of daylight savings time on Sunday, reminds transportation operators and the public to focus on fatigue.

"While alcohol is often associated with impairment, operating a vehicle while fatigued can be just as deadly," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "As we move the clocks forward an hour this weekend, transportation operators need to plan for adequate sleep on Sunday night and every other night to safeguard the travelling public."

On Saturday, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) released its 2012 Sleep in America poll. For the first time, the NSF asked transportation professionals about their sleep habits. Many admit to struggling with sleep. According to NSF, nearly one-fourth of pilots and train operators admit that their performance is affected at least once a week by sleepiness. Moreover, one in five pilots acknowledge a serious error, and one in six train operators and truck drivers say that sleepiness has led to a "near miss".

"The results of the NSF poll should serve as a literal 'wake-up call'," Hersman said. "Inadequate sleep puts lives at risk - we see this over and over in our accident investigations. Improving the quantity and quality of sleep can improve safety and ultimately save lives."

Managing human fatigue has been on the NTSB's Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements since the list was first created in 1990. As a result of our accident investigations, the Safety Board has issued nearly 200 fatigue-related recommendations to address diverse areas including: hours of service requirements, scheduling policies, education and training, diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, research, and vehicle technologies.

NTSB Media Contact: NTSB Public Affairs Terry Williams
(202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.