Long-haul truck drivers who drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks are significantly less likely to have an accident than their uncaffeinated peers.
Australian researchers looked at data on 530 drivers recently involved in a crash, comparing them with 517 who had not had an accident within the past 12 months. All were driving tractor units with one, two or three trailers.
The researchers interviewed all the drivers, gathering information about various health and lifestyle issues, including caffeine consumption over the past month. The study was published online in BMJ.
After adjusting for age, driver experience, distance driven, hours of sleep, naps, night driving and other factors, they found that drivers who consumed caffeine were 63 percent less likely to be involved in a crash.
According to the lead author, Lisa N. Sharwood, a research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia, this does not mean that caffeinated drinks are the answer for road safety.
“Clearly drivers are using caffeinated substances to help them stay awake,” she said. “While this may be useful for a period of time, it should really be seen as part of drivers’ overall fatigue and health management in a quite dangerous industry. It isn’t sustainable to go without sleep. But caffeine is useful as part of a wider strategy.”
By NICHOLAS BAKALAR
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