Long-distance truck drivers who drink coffee have significantly fewer traffic accidents, according to an Australian study published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health, several Australian universities and police departments, compared 530 heavy-goods truck drivers who had recently been involved in crashes on long trips with 517 who had not. Ninety-nine percent of the drivers surveyed were men.
Truck drivers who consumed caffeine to help them stay alert were found to be 63 percent less likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents than drivers who didn’t drink caffeinated beverages. The study adjusted for age, sleep patterns, driving distances, breaks that were taken and night-driving schedules.
Forty-three percent of the drivers surveyed said they consumed tea, coffee, caffeine tablets or energy drinks to help them stay awake. Three percent of the respondents admitted to taking some type of illegal stimulant such as amphetamines (speed) to stay awake on long trips.
Seventy percent of the drivers surveyed said they pull over and nap if they get tired.
“The study shows that the consumption of caffeinated beverages can significantly protect against crash risk for the long distance commercial driver,” says lead study author Lisa Sharwood of The George Institute and the University of Sydney. “The benefit, however, is likely to be short lived. Having regular breaks, napping and appropriate work schedules are strongly recommended in line with national fatigue management legislation for heavy vehicle drivers.”