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Steven M. Lee, PC

Caffeine May Play an Important Role in Preventing Truck Wrecks

We all know at least one person who tells us not to talk to them in the morning before they've had their cup of coffee. Caffeine is one of the most consumed stimulants in the world, so when it comes to helping individuals wake up and function throughout the day, beverages like coffee and energy drinks are extremely popular choices.

For many of us, lives will not necessarily be saved if we consume caffeine. Caffeine is just our way to "wake up" a little in the morning and hopefully become focused enough to pick out an outfit for work that matches. Researchers in Australia wondered, however, how caffeine could impact workers in an industry where being drowsy can be very dangerous—fatal, even. In the March 2013 issue of the British Medical Journal, these researchers presented the findings of a study they conducted involving caffeine and whether there is an association between its usage and the risk of a crash in long distance commercial vehicle drivers.

The Basics of the Caffeine Study

This study took place in New South Wales and Western Australia. The participants were 530 long-distance drivers of commercial vehicles who were recently involved in a crash attended by police, and 517 control drivers who had not had a crash in the last 12 months while they were driving a commercial motor vehicle. The participants were studied in many different ways and a great deal of information was collected about each driver to build an accurate picture of their health, lifestyle, sleep quantity and quality, work schedule, and consumption of caffeinated stimulant substances like tea, coffee, energy drinks, or caffeine tablets.

The Results: Caffeine Prevents Truck Accidents

It may not come as much of a surprise, but the researchers found that drivers who consumed caffeinated substances for the purpose of staying awake had a 63% reduced likelihood of crashing compared with drivers who did not take caffeinated substances.

As a conclusion, the study stated that their findings proved that the use of caffeinated substances could be "a useful adjunct strategy in the maintenance of alertness while driving."

While the researchers do have a point about using caffeine to maintain alertness while driving, it is hard to believe we will see any type of strategy in place anytime soon. Some people have caffeine intolerances or are sensitive to its effects and an amount that may be optimal for one driver may be far too intense for another. Caffeine, after all, is a drug, and drugs—legal or not—come with risks. A truck driver who has too much caffeine could have an increased heart rate, anxiety, heart palpitations, the need to urinate more frequently, insomnia, headaches, and more. Needless to say, much more research needs to be done before any type of caffeine consumption is mandated for commercial vehicle drivers.

Were you injured in a truck wreck caused by a drowsy truck driver? If so, do you believe they should be required to consume caffeine if it has been proven to reduce accidents? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think.


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