The engineer involved with the recent NY train derailment may have been suffering from severe sleep deprivation which inhibited him from doing his job properly. According to U.S. News, the engineer claimed he was in “‘a daze situation’ when he took a curve at almost three times the speed limit, his lawyer said” (NY Train derailment shows potential risks of “sleep attacks”).
Another article from the Daily News explains that following the derailment, mechanical issues could be dismissed as being the source of the problem, as block boxes were recovered from the site of the derailment. The author states that “[unfortunately], we have not put in place a black box equivalent that can analyze and respond, in real time, to alertness or sleepiness data from the engineer’s brain” (How sleep deprivation endangers lives). Most adults require around 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night in order to be alert and awake the next day. Yet, most Americans only average 5 or 6 hours, and even that might be a stretch. The author points out that most people “overestimate [their] sleep length by about 47 minutes” (sleep deprivation). For transit workers, the symptoms and severity of fatigue and sleep deprivation are only heightened due to factors such as changing work schedules.
Among other things, this devastating event should emphasize the importance of getting a good night’s rest and being sufficiently alert throughout your day. Whether you work in public transportation or are simply picking your kids up from school, its always good to know you have had a good night’s sleep the night before.