Sobering issue - Sleep deprivation


The thread from Casey regarding the flask reminded me of a special I saw on TV regarding sleep deprivation. They did an experiment where they took two groups of drivers. One group they gave drinks to, the other they cut their sleep significantly. It was amazing to see how poorly the sleep deprived drivers did. Depending on how long they had been awake they were as bad as some of the drivers who had been drinking 5-6 drinks. Also, the driving tests were done in the bright daylight. Imagine if it were done throughout the night!

I know that we all put in long hours when necessary, but this is just something to think about when the night gets long.

Just my two cents....

- Pete

Alan Addict
Been there, done that,, it's not fun

One of the reasons I've added trucks is to cut down on hours. Both to allow faster cycle times on the route and also to get drivers out of the trucks in less time.

I know that I've been in the position of not knowing where I was while driving down a road I'm on every day. Also lost the picture while backing across the middle of a big lot. Pounded the brakes, got out and walked around int he cold for a while until I felt (relatively) safe to finish the lot and go home.

That stuff is scary. Granted, it comes with the territory, unlike the necessity of "medicinal" alcohol we can't do much about it other than watch our elapsed times and try to be aware of our metal state.

The past few times we've had to go into extra innings I've pulled everybody off for showers and a few hours sleep. I think it's worth it both from a safety standpoint and productivity.


Senior Member
I saw the program you are refering to. It definately was an interesting study. Could not believe how bad subjects drove without sleep.


Mick Veteran
Been through that sleep deprivation. Many years ago I was driving to Iowa from Louisiana after a days work. Headed through Arkansas at night. At first I was drowsy, then disoriented then started hallucinating. I saw a man cross the deserted road in front of me and I hit him. Didn't feel a thud. Went back but couldn't find anything. Didn't know what to do so went on up the road to find a town with a police dept and report it. A few miles later, I saw a cow cross the road and I hit it, too. No thud, nothing there. I decided I was too tired to continue.

On another note - too much coffee will also cause a condition known as Caffeineism. Main symptom is Disorientation. In graduate school, I started to conduct an experiement giving caffeine pills to volunteers to study the effects. I could get the pills and the subjects. The problem was that I had to screen for people with any heart condition or possibility of pregnancy. But I wouldn't worry, it takes more than the equivelant of a thermos of coffee to induce caffeineism.
Wanna hear a sleep depravation story? I was assigned to the US Army, Berlin Brigade during the Cold War. West Berlin was surrounded by the Berlin Wall and is approx 140 miles behind what was the Iron Curtan seperating East and West Germany. I had been assigned the task of delivering one of our Officers and $30,000 US Currency to West Germany from West Berlin. Due to training manuvers we had been on I had no sleep for 2 days before we started the trip through East Germany. I was issued 1 m-16, 1 45cal. and lots of ammo. I was told to go full speed and not stop for ANYTHING. If anyone or thing tried to stop my veh I was given the authority to do whatever it took to keep going.
I also knew enough that if I didnt make it through, the truth about why would not be known by my government.
Traveling at about 100 mph, half way accross E. Germany I fell asleep at the wheel. When the sedan left the roadway and hit the unpaved shoulder I jolted awake and put it back on the road without loosing control. My passenger also woke and when he asked me what happened I said I hit a rock on the road.

That was 15 years ago when I was a 19 year old kid.
I have never had a problem keeping my eyes wide open ever since.



Senior Member
Quad Cities IL.
To go along with the posts on this subject; In the middle of a nasty -non-stop blizzard last year on a big lot I was barely gaining ground. In the middle of the night something caught my eye out in the parking lot. It was some "mentaly challenged "young kid aimlessly wandering around ,playing in the snow,climbing on piles. It woke me out of a daze for my thoughts were ,he could have easily been walking behind me during a backup and.......just the thought of that happening. I don`t care one bit if it wouldn`t have been my fault.Like 1:15 or soAM . How many have backed into a light pole besides myself ? WWWWHHHAAAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!:realmad:

Mick Veteran
Backed into a utility pole just last week. I'd looked in the mirror before backing - plenty of room:( . Next thing - wham - hit the bumper. Worst part was the customer's father was there. He acted like "no big deal". No damage, but still felt like a nut.


Senior Member
I tend to see things that are not really there after plowing 26+ hours straight with no coffee, food or rest only a pee break out the door of my tractor. This has happened 3 or 4 times to me.


Senior Member
My first season, I plowed for an extended period because I was a one man band and we had 6-8" of snow that would literally create waves as you approached the pile because there was so much water content in the snow. After a while, I could hear the windshield wiper motor eventhough the wipers were not on!

Suffice it to say that I have changed how I do business because of that experience. Nothing like learning from the school of hard knocks!



Senior Member
Sleep Deprivation

It's one of the reasons why I gave up driving an 18 wheeler back 18 years ago. I use to run to Port Newark and haul Banana's back to the Boston area. It was my second trip down in two days and I was exhausted. I dozed off in the passing lane one night heading down a hill on 84 south in Connecticut around Rockville on one of the Seven Sisters (The Hills on 84 in north Ct.) and bounced off the curb and it jolted me awake. I pulled over into the rest area at the bottom of the hill and slept for about 8 hours then continued on to N.J. and was late for the whole rest of the week. My boss was none to happy that I was late the rest of the week and wanted me to run and run to catch up. I said NO, and ended up finding a new career very shortly after this episode.

a palustris

new york
Never fallen asleep at the wheel, thank God. One of my father's friends however... he did fall asleep at the wheel years ago and plowed into a car being driven by nuns :(


Senior Member
yes and yes

I was 20 years old. Took my sweet heart to the drive in movie 34 miles from home. Took my dog. coming back from the movie, I dozed off on the hiway doing bout 60 mph. Dog barked, I woke just in time to swerve from hitting gaurd rail. God I loved that dog!

9 years later, pushing for 35 hours into a big storm. Huge parking lot. 4 lamp posts. Darn if I did not back into one.:p :nono:

I was a 2man show back then. Now I run 10 trucks. Less work for each man, more dough in our pockets. :)
last storm I was out for 23 hours, I spent the first 13 or so on parking lots then the next 10 hrs or so through the night on driveways, we had 2 of our trucks go down so I had to do alot of extra work. well, i also saw people walking in the woods and alot of other strange stuff, it's wierd how your mind gets when your by yourself and without sleep... it's almost like your half dreaming. Anybody else ever talk back to the dj on the radio before or is it just me because I've done that before too.

The worst was a blizzard we had a couple years ago, we put in 65 hours in 3 days. That was rough.

Another time I was cleaning up a parking lot at 4:30 am with a skidsteer and pusher box, I was falling asleep in the middle of everypass and waking up when I hit the curb at the end...I went home shorly after that.


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2000 Club Member
I once fell asleep at a stop sign 1/2 mile from home in broad daylight. I awoke in a panic, I didn't have the slightest idea where I was or how I had gotten there. I looked around and finally recognized my surroundings, but it took what seemed like 30 seconds. This was after plowing a blizzard for 36 hours.

I now carry a pillow in the truck and stop for 15 & 20 minute power naps to get me through.


Senior Member
Quad Cities IL.
Here`s a good one that no one has mentioned, how about when you crank up the 2 cycle blower @ 2:00 AM and keep imagining people are peaking out through their window with the lights off watching to see that it`s getting done right.:D


Senior Member
Those from the the taconic area of NY would understand where I was.

I worked in a Bakery from 4am till 10 am in Norwalk CT, Went to culinary school in Hyde Park, NY (CIA) from 2-10 67 miles each way and usually delivered bread on my way to school. 4-5 hours a sleep a day for 2 years

Would try to take a nap in the school parking lot. Consistenly woke up in a panic that I had caused a massive traffic backup on I-84 because I fell asleep in the travel lane.

OR I would wake up screaming "Leo, I didn't burn the muffins" Leo and Carmine were my boss if you get my drift.

OR on the big downhill on 84 before you turn off to head north on the Taconic, passed a state trooper in between the trucks at the rest area. Was not concentrating, but going REAL fast. I pulled over before he had the chance to pull out. 82 in a 55. Said if I show up to court in fishkill he would work something out. Next day same cop 67 in 55. Reminded me to slow down. He was on the lookout for me for 2 weeks, waved and turned his light bar every time I passed him. Bargained it down to a parking on the pavement, no points $35 fine. Point being, I was always in such a rush to get to where I was going I drove pretty recklessly.

Your life, livelyhood and health are more important.



Senior Member
monroe, ct

that backer would not happen to be Pepperidge farms on post road would it

Years ago I use to leave my ex's girlfriends house and head home. For a week straight ever time I went down this one road I would start to doze off... its a windey down hill deadly road... don't know why.. but I did...

other time when driving to CT to Tenn after being up all night had a real ruff time getting there....

but the worst yet has been with my wife coming back non stop from myrtle beach to CT... it was a 16 hour drive or so.. but the 2 of us had been up so much and were so tired that we were changing drivers every 45 min or so to stay awake.... It was bad..

I would not even want to think about drinking in that condition... and I am sure I had my days when I did... .stopped that almost 10 years ago.. have not had a beer in that long at all.
whole other story

:nono: :nono:


Senior Member
Southwestern Pa.
I've taken a few of those naps at 60 mph myself... Not a good thing. I do just fall asleep before I start seeing things though.

20 years ago I was working on a construction job, compacting fill in a 75' X 100' hole. I don't remember why I was so tired, but running a roller is dreadfully boring anyway. Similar to Little green Guy's skid steer story, I'd start off in one direction, nod off and when the machine bumped into the wall I'd wake up and go the other way. Probably lucky I didn't fall off and squash myself.

It's only recently I've realized the benefits of sugar and caffiene in large doses. You can bet that the next time we have a plowing marathon I'll be stocked up on Pepsi and Chips Ahoy cookies.