Normally, you might think that you don’t want truckers to be on any kind of drug while driving. However, a new study conducted in Australia has found that truck drivers who drink caffeinated beverages are involved in significantly fewer accidents. In fact, the study, which was published in the most recent issue of British Medical Journal (BMJ), found that commercial truckers who regularly drank coffee, soda, or energy drinks were 63 percent less likely to crash their vehicle than truckers who did not use caffeine.
The study, which was conducted by Lisa Sharwood at George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, examined the driving records of over 1,000 truckers in Australia over one year. The research adjusted for a number of different factors, including fatigue, driver experience, driver lifestyle, and night driving.
Although the study only linked the absence of accidents with caffeine consumption, it did not explore exactly why caffeine prevents truck crashes. However, researchers and safety advocates believe that the drug, which is a stimulant, likely renders truck drivers more alert and allows them to better focus on the road. Earlier studies have also found that shift workers who consume caffeine before going on the job were less likely to be involved in accidents.
A temporary solution to a bigger problem?
The study’s authors were quick to say that although caffeine appears to prevent a significant number of truck accidents, drinking caffeine may not be the solution to eliminating truck accident injuries and fatalities. In fact, the study may simply shine light on just how fatigued truckers are. It may be that trucking regulations should be stricter so that truck drivers are not sleepy behind the wheel to begin with. While caffeine consumption may be able to prevent crashes and save lives, it probably cannot be made law. It may be ultimately easier and safer to shorten the consecutive hours a trucker can spend behind the wheel.