Truck drivers face enormous pressure to meet tight delivery deadlines, often travelling long distances without taking a break to catch up on much needed sleep. Many truckers drive through the night, which can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms, increasing the level of driver fatigue. According to a report by the U.S. National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA), 90 percent of truck accidents are caused by driver error. Fatigue is the most common culprit. New research published by the British Medical Journal indicates that the consumption of caffeine is a safe and effective way for truck drivers to stay awake and alert while driving.
The study’s objective was to determine whether truck drivers who consumed caffeine were less likely to be involved in a commercial truck accident than those who did not consume caffeine. Researchers interviewed 530 long distance truck drivers who had been involved in a police-attended truck accident, and 517 control drivers who had not been involved in a commercial truck accident in the past year. Each participant was asked to provide information about their demographics, medical conditions, drug and alcohol consumption, and sleep patterns. The study revealed the following results:
Forty-three percent of participants consumed caffeinated products like coffee, tea, energy drinks, or tablets to help them stay awake.
Only three percent reported that they used illegal substances like amphetamines or cocaine.
Truck drivers who consumed caffeine for the purpose of staying awake while driving had a 63 percent reduced likelihood of crashing, compared to truck drivers who did not consume any caffeinated products.
While caffeine was found to improve alertness, the results were inconclusive in terms of reducing the likelihood of injury.
Given the similarities in work conditions and distances travelled, the results may also apply to American truck drivers. In the United States, it is not uncommon for truck drivers to resort to drugs like amphetamines and other illegal stimulants to help keep them awake and alert during their long hauls. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits the use of illegal substances, many drivers ignore this rule, often taking these drugs in addition to coffee. Even some prescription medications can cause drowsiness and blurred vision, which jeopardizes the driver’s safety, as well as other motorists sharing the road. If coffee alone can provide an effective option for truck drivers to stay awake, it may reduce the number of devastating truck accidents across the country.
Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of All Truck Accidents
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a truck accident involving a drowsy driver, contact our Baltimore truck accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent truck accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.