Drinking and driving is a major cause of traffic accident injuries and deaths, but a new study out of Australia has found that drinking caffeinated beverages can greatly reduce the number of commercial truck accidents. Should all truckers be drinking coffee, soda, or energy drinks before hitting the road, or should the government take more steps toward making sure that truckers aren’t driving such long hours that they need to keep themselves awake with stimulants?
Stimulants aren’t a new choice for truckers
In past years, truck drivers and trucking companies have been criticized for the rampant use of illicit stimulants in the industry, including speed and other amphetamine-related substances. These drugs are not only illegal, but also poise a danger to others on the road. A study conducted ten years ago found that 20 percent of truck drivers had used these types of stimulants to stay awake at some point in their trucking career.
Caffeine stimulates the brain in the same way as the above illegal drugs—just to a lesser extent. Drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks can keep the brain alert and focused, even if the driver is fatigued—at least for a short amount of time. However, depending on caffeine to ward off fatigue can be dangerous, and some drivers who relied on stimulants reported suffering from fatigue more often.
It seems clear that although caffeine may prevent truck accidents, it is not a viable, long-term solution to preventing truck accident injuries and fatalities.
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