Improving sleep, reducing fatigue, and impacting Total Worker Health® for team truck drivers
- An enhanced cab intervention that utilizes a therapeutic mattress system and an active suspension seat to alter whole body vibrations during driving and sleep periods.
- A behavioral sleep intervention, which has been adapted from our effective SHIFT (Safety & Health Involvement For Truckers) program.
The purpose of this study is to learn more about how team truck drivers manage their sleep and fatigue, and also evaluate technologies that may impact driver sleep and fatigue.
Long-haul truck drivers, who may drive up to 11 hours per day and 60 hours per week, are at high risk for drowsiness and fatigue while driving. Sleeping conditions are uniquely challenging due to long, irregular work hours and a truck sleeping environment that may be polluted with noise, whole body vibrations, and uncomfortable temperatures. Compared to solo drivers who sleep in parked vehicles, team drivers have twice as many awakenings per night, with vehicle movements and vibrations implicated as the most important contributing factor. Sleep deficiency (insufficient quantity and/or quality of sleep) is linked to occupational safety and vehicle crashes and also with chronic disease, and early mortality. The sleep-challenged and sedentary trucking environment can easily trap drivers in ever-worsening negative feedback loops between sleep, health, and safety.
The Tech4Rest program was developed based on previous effective interventions.
The enhanced cab intervention includes an active suspension seat. Our previous research has demonstrated that industry-standard passive, air suspension seat has substantially higher whole body vibration exposures relative to the active-suspension seat. This study also showed that higher levels of whole body vibration exposures adversely affect the vigilance of truck drivers and contribute to cognitive fatigue.
The behavioral intervention is adapted from the SHIFT program which originally targeted weight loss among truck drivers. SHIFT is a 6-month group weight loss competition supported with weekly behavior and body weight logging, behavioral computer-based training (healthy weight loss, sleep, eating, and exercise), and individual motivational interviewing (up to 4 interviews). SHIFT has been established as effective in a cluster randomized controlled trial. The intervention produced a significant and medically meaningful mean difference of -1.0 BMI units between groups. The intervention also has a demonstrated track record producing moderate-to-large improvements in driver physical activity (sleep protective), which is leveraged in the Tech4Rest adaptation to explicitly improve sleep.
Funding for Tech4Rest is provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH; grant: U19OH010154) and the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries
(Not pictured: FangFang Wang, MS - Graduate Research Assistant (University of Washington), Frank Ryou Hyoung, MPH - Graduate Research Assistant (University of Washington))
Olson, R., Johnson, P., Shea, S., Marino, M., Rimby, J., Womack, K., Wang, F., Springer, R., Donovan, C., & Rice, S. (2020). Advancing the safety, health, and well-being of commercial driving teams who sleep in moving semi-trucks: The Tech4rest pilot study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62 (12), 1082-1096. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000002063