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Science In Brief

Survey of Long-Haul Truckers Finds Cumulative Sleep Deficit

September 11, 1997|From Times staff and wire reports

In the largest and most comprehensive study of driver fatigue and alertness in long-haul truckers, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla have found that sleep deprivation is pervasive among drivers and that the greatest susceptibility to fatigue--no surprise--is in the late night and early morning.

The team studied 80 drivers working five-day, 10-hour driving schedules. They reported in the Sept. 11 New England Journal of Medicine that even though the drivers took the federally required eight hours off after their driving periods, they actually slept an average of only 4.78 hours, accumulating a two-hour sleep deficit each day. The group recommends that the time off period be increased to 10 hours.

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