1. inattentive or negligent
the people running that business are asleep at the wheel
This expression alludes to the potentially catastrophic consequences likely to occur if a person was to fall asleep while driving a vehicle. To be 'asleep at the wheel' in a figurative sense means to fail to attend to one's responsibilities, fail to perform a duty, or to miss an opportunity, resulting in something bad happening. It is usually due to inattentiveness or irresponsible behaviour, and can potentially be a sackable offence. If you 'fall asleep at the wheel' you are not paying attention or you miss out on an advantage. The nature of this expression means that it is most commonly used in a professional environment. A similar expression is 'caught napping.'