Technical Reports

The Effects of Work Schedule on Train Handling Performance and Sleep of Locomotive Engineers: A Simulator Study.

  • 01
  • Jul
  • 1997
AUTHOR: Thomas, G., Raslear, T., & Kuehn, G.
OFFICE: RPD
SUBOFFICE: RPD-30
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-97/09
SUBJECT: Human Factors, Sleep Disorders, Work Schedule & Sleep Patterns
KEYWORDS: locomotive engineers; fatigue; work schedules, hours of service; sleep, RALES simulator; work performance; train-handling; alertness; ciradian rythms, safety
ABSTRACT: Current Federal regulations governing Hours of Service for locomotive engineers allow work schedules that have backwards rotating shift start times. Locomotive engineers who work under such schedules can accumulate a progressive sleep debt over a period of days. The present study demonstrates that schedules which have these characteristics are easily composed and do, indeed, result in sleep durations which are considerably less than those obtained by the general population. The locomotive engineers in this study, while working on such schedules, reported progressive decrease in subjective alertness across the duration of the study. Moreover, several aspects of job performance, including safety sensitive tasks, degraded during the same time period. This suggests that current Federal regulations governing Hours of Service have the potential to allow work schedules which degrade the job performance of locomotive engineers and reduce the safety of railroad operations.
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