Most of us know how it feels to have a long day at work and be 100% ready to pass out the minute we get home. If you’re unlucky enough to have worked over 14 hours that day, the odds of passing out before you get home go way up. If your karma is really, really in a mood, you might just pass out for one second too long while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Last week, Riverdale actor K.J. Apa, the actor behind Archie Andrews, fell asleep while driving home after a shoot near Vancouver (the duration of which seems to be up in the air — though reported as 16 hours by The Hollywood Reporter and Global News, Warner Bros. has since released a statement claiming that it was actually just over 14 hours.) He crashed into a pole, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, he made it out mostly unscathed (though I doubt anyone’s going to be driving that car!)
Co-star Cole Sprouse has reportedly requested that the producers arrange for transportation for the actors should they be forced to work late hours; however, the Warner Bros. policy invariably leaves getting to and from the set up to the cast members themselves.
Without knowing more about the circumstances of this particular incident, it’s hard to make any sweeping calls. While I definitely don’t think Apa should have been driving if he wasn’t 100% alert, there might’ve been some unknown factors in this case which made alternate travel options unrealistic.
There also appears to be a strange contradiction in the public statements. Despite Warner Bros. policy allegedly being that actors must find their own travel, Warner Bros. claimed, in response to the incident, that actors are told that they can call a cab or stay in a hotel near the shooting area using company money.
However, this is a bigger issue than just the Riverdale cast.
The reality is that overtime hours in any job are going to increase fatigue and make the odds of an accident that much more likely; Deadline cites a British Medical Journal study that claims that jobs that involve overtime hours see an increase in injury risk as high as 61%. Other studies in the past few years have indicated that medical residents, for instance, can endanger themselves very easily when overly drowsy, whether with a needle or a car.
I can’t speak to how much downtime a shift on an acting set generally involves, nor is it clear exactly how often any individual Riverdale actor works overtime shifts. But Vancouver and its surrounding cities, which host many jobs that require overtime hours, should be thinking about a way to minimize the risk factor involved for other drivers.
Just as drunk driving is majorly dangerous, fatigued drivers pose a danger to others. The difference is that it’s much, much harder to gauge whether you’re tired enough to warrant not driving — and as we don’t live in a perfect world, not everyone has the luxury of finding other transportation the second they start to lose energy.
While labour laws generally seem to fall more under the purview of the provincial government, I do think it’s in Vancouver’s interests to mandate that companies and institutions in the area that require significant overtime per day or per week of its workers provide them with transport, or pay the cost of their cabs, at least. This holds true whether or not Warner Bros. in particular is already doing it.
From doctors to paramedics, office workers to restaurant staff, there are many occupations that work people to the bone. If there’s a way to make that less of an issue, we should be taking it.