TRANSIT members were shocked and disappointed to read the news in The Star today, which shared the results of a survey by the Sleep Disorder Society of Malaysia and the JKJR which showed that a significant number of Malaysian bus drivers suffer from sleep disorders.
30% of M’sian bus drivers suffer from sleep disorders (The Star)
Saturday February 18, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: Sleeping disorders affect 30 percent of 300 bus drivers in the country, with eight percent categorised as chronic, raising fears about their driving performance.
Sleep Disorder Society Malaysia (SDSM) president Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari said the statistics were obtained in a joint study with the Road Safety Department (JKJR) recently.
“The survey was carried out on 300 bus drivers from five transport companies nationwide and what shocked us the most was that eight percent are at a severe level,” he told Bernama at the Sleep Disorder Society Malaysia (SDSM) Scientific Meeting – Towards Healthier Sleep in Malaysia event, here on Saturday.
[TRANSIT: We want to know which companies!]
The Universiti Malaya Medical Faculty senior lecturer and psychiatrist said this group of people, who find it difficult to sleep and experience severe disorders including sleep apnea (characterised by abnormal pauses in breathing while sleeping), are at risk of being involved in industrial or road accidents.
[Indeed, TRANSIT avoids the use of the word “accident” because we believe there are no accidents … there are only recklessness, carelessness and negligence … all errors in judgment arising from choices made by human beings.]
Therefore, efforts were needed to ensure that drivers with such problems were treated as they drive for long periods of time, he added.
[TRANSIT: This is something that TRANSIT has been talking about for more than 5 years … that SPAD needs to restructure the bus industry (and the freight transport industry) to restore safety & dignity to both industries.]
“Sleep disorders, especially chronic insomnia and sleep apnea, may be among the causes of accidents and serious injuries as they can fall asleep during the day and while driving which is extremely dangerous to them and their passengers,” he said.
[TRANSIT: And when you combine sleepy bus drivers with unsafe buses and unsafe roads, you have a recipe for destruction – one of the reasons why there have been so many deaths on Malaysian roads, year after year.]
Muhammad Muhsin said, as a first step, health checkups should be made compulsory for bus and lorry drivers to determine whether they have any form of sleep disorder.
[TRANSIT: Something we’ve recommended to SPAD, MIROS and JKJR around 2-3 years ago.]
“Those with sleep apnea or any severe form of sleeping disorder need to be treated first before they can resume driving,” he added.
He said a study by a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) lecturer, who is also a member of the SDSM, revealed that more than seven percent of Malaysians suffered from sleep disorders.
“However, we believe there are many who do not consult specialists or seek treatment thinking it is a minor problem,” said Muhammad Muhsin.
He added that sleep disorders not only affected productivity and the economy, but also caused weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks and blocked airways. – Bernama
More and more, medical experts are becoming aware of the importance of sleep for individual health. Indeed, good sleep helps the body recover, improves the mood, and ensures a strong immune system, which helps prevent disease and other ailments. Hence, the better our sleep, the healthier our bodies and the better the effect on society.
Unfortunately, Malaysian society has developed into one where good sleep is not valued by many. Our stores open early and close late and 24 hour restaurants can be found everywhere, not just in urban areas.
To make things worse, our lack of investment in transportation and the encouraging of urban sprawl have combined to make Malaysians even more sleep deprived. The average one-way commuting time in the Klang Valley is now 70 minutes … and the more time that we spend in commuting, the less time we have for family … and for ourselves.
The residents of Subang Jaya probably know the most about this. Because of poor town planning and limited transportation infrastructure, Subang Jaya & USJ residents wake up extra early and come home extra late. One has to wonder what the infamous Subang Jaya jams (now found in Sunway, USJ, and Puchong) are doing to the health of people living in those areas.
Consider the lost time sleeping, less time with family, more stress, air pollution from slow-moving cars stuck in stop-and-go traffic, and their effect on the human body. Then combine that with other stresses of a fast-paced life, concerns about security (less time at home means more opportunity for break-ins), financial pressures (must own, operate and maintain 2-3 cars), etc. etc. etc. the case becomes clearer.
We at TRANSIT can only comment on the smaller issues, but we want our readers to understand the connections and links between our lifestyles and our individual health and that of our society.
And we want our readers to help us. Talk to your MPs and ADUNs and SPAD and tell them how important it is to have safe, healthy bus drivers. It’s time to bring some dignity back to public transport. We hope that this will be the first step to bringing better health back into our society and into our lives.