Perils of sleep deprivation painfully driven home

Fatigue can exert an enormous toll on employees and business
By Uyen Vu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 01/04/2005

The driver behind the wheel of the Porter Trucking tractor-trailer said he felt fit and rested on the afternoon of May 2, 2002, when he set out from his Central Manitoba home with a long drive to Calgary ahead of him.

He had just woken up from a 30-minute nap. That afternoon, as he approached a railway crossing near Firdale, Man., about 10 minutes after setting out, he saw a school bus coming from the opposite direction and pulled over to make way for the bus to pass. Then, shifting into second gear, he proceeded through the crossing, looking to his left first, then in the left-hand mirror, then to his right. That was when he saw an oncoming train.

In the crash that ensued, when the locomotive struck the rear of the trailer, 21 cars derailed, their loads of plastic pellets, dangerous goods and ethylene glycol feeding a flaming tower that took more than two days to put out. No one was hurt, but 156 residents nearby had to leave their homes for two days. In an investigation into the accident, the federal Transportation Safety Board found that fatigue might have played a role.