Those air traffic controllers, you know, the people who make sure planes don’t crash into each other and land safely? Some of them have been caught nodding off on the job. Why? They’re totally exhausted. What was the recommendation to remedy the problem? Sleep experts said they should be allowed to take naps. Germany and Japan allow their controllers to do so, and have set up special rooms and cots for them. Right now, they can’t even nap during their breaks!! WTH?
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took a look at their recommendation and tossed it aside. Instead, he’s making sure that each controller have 9 hours off between shifts instead of 8. Big whoop. Experts said that the problem for midnight shifts would only slightly improve.
Does Secretary LaHood know what’s in fire stations? Beds. Rested workers are good workers. When we’re dealing with multi-ton objects flying around in the sky, having alert ones would be helpful.
Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation of Alexandria, VA summed it up beautifully:
“Given the body of scientific evidence, that decision clearly demonstrates that politics remain more important than public safety. People are concerned about a political backlash if they allow controllers to have rest periods in their work shifts the same way firefighters and trauma physicians do.”
Yeah, screw safety. It’s all about placating the base.