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Does caffeine consumption lead to less truck accidents?

Truck drivers often work long, boring hours on the roads. When driving from one state to another -- often on not enough sleep or during the nighttime hours -- it is not unheard of for fatigue to set in. While one would hope a driver would pull over and rest upon the realization of being tired, many times truck drivers continue to push it in order to make a certain delivery time frame.

Trying to fight fatigue may be the reason that truck drivers tend to drink coffee and energy drinks. They hope the caffeine in these drinks will be able to power them through the drive.

A recent study looked at the role caffeine plays among truck drivers. From there it was found that those who drank caffeine were 63 percent less likely to get into a trucking accident.

To conduct this study, researchers interviewed 530 drivers who had been in a truck accident and 517 truck drivers who had not been in an accident in the past year. Information related to their health and lifestyles, as well as caffeine consumption, was recorded.

Researchers also adjusted their findings for things like age, the distance the truck driver drove, how many hours of sleep they got and other factors that play a role in the likelihood of getting into a crash.

In this study, even though data points to the fact those who consumed caffeine were in fewer accidents, the lead author is quick to point out this does not mean that more caffeine is the answer to road safety issues. Rather, caffeine can be part of a larger strategy to keep truck drivers and other motorists on the road safe. But, more needs to be done to prevent truck driver fatigue.

In general, when it comes to truck crashes in the Chicago area, fatigue is one of the main causes. However, many times those who are injured in these types of accidents do not even realize the driver was tired until later on when an attorney begins an investigation into the driver's records and starts working with sleep experts.

Source: The New York Times, "Caffeine May Boost Driver Safety," Nicholas Bakalar, March 21, 2013

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