The snowstorms hitting the Midwest and Northeast are a nightmare for commuters. Driving would be nearly impossible without the armies of snowplows and salt trucks that come out to rid the streets of snow.
But for the plow drivers who work all night, clearing the streets isn’t their only challenge. The Nashua Telegraph in New Hampshire points out that they also have to fight to stay awake.
Working through the night. Icy streets. Poor visibility. It’s almost a perfect storm for drowsy driving. Especially for those who are clearing long stretches of empty highways.
What’s the extent of the problem? Clearing streets can involve thousands of people in the states and cities with the most snow.
Illinois has more than 3,000 employees working to keep state routes clear. The effort involves more than 482,000 labor hours. The city of Chicago deploys a fleet of 274 trucks to clear city streets.
Chicago gets an average of about 39 inches of snow per year. But that’s nothing compared to the 116 inches of snow that falls on Syracuse annually.
Of course it isn’t just snow plow drivers who are in danger of drowsy driving. Any shift worker is at risk. This includes truck drivers, pilots and police officers.
A shift-work schedule can cause severe sleep problems. The AASM offers these Sleep Tips for Shift Workers as a helpful resource.