-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- Drinking coffee or other
caffeinated beverages to stay awake is linked with a 63 percent
lower crash risk for long-distance truckers, a new study finds.
Australian researchers looked at 530 truckers who had a crash
while on a long-distance trip and 517 who did not have a crash in
the previous year. The study was conducted between 2008 and 2011 in
New South Wales and Western Australia.
Forty-three percent of the drivers in the study said they
consumed caffeinated products -- such as coffee, tea, caffeine
tablets or energy drinks -- to help them stay awake while on the
After adjusting for age, sleep patterns and other factors, the
researchers found that drivers who consumed caffeine to keep them
awake were 63 percent less likely to have a crash than those who
did not use caffeine, even though those who used caffeine drove
longer distances and slept less.
The researchers also found that having a previous crash in the
past five years increased the risk of a crash during the study
period by 81 percent, and this increased risk remained significant
even after taking other factors into account.
There was a link between heavy smoking and crash risk, but this
did not remain after accounting for other factors, according to the
study, which was published online March 19 in the
British Medical Journal.
Consuming caffeinated products "can significantly protect
against crash risk for the long-distance commercial driver" and
this finding has "important implications for the improvement of
fatigue-management strategies for this and similar populations,"
the researchers concluded.
They added, however, that the benefit provided by caffeine is
only useful for a short time, and that it is important to have
regular breaks, naps and appropriate work schedules.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines the
causes and risks of drowsy driving.
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