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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Nutrition & Wellness Channel
Reported March 21, 2013

Caffeine Can Prevent Crashes


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – If you need a boost in the morning or begin to feel drowsy during the day, you may turn to coffee, energy drinks, or some other caffeinated beverage. For long distance drivers in particular, caffeine plays an important role in staying alert. In fact, an Australian study determined that consuming caffeinated products during long trips actually lowers commercial vehicle drivers’ likelihood of crashing. 
Between 2008 and 2011, researchers observed long distance commercial vehicle drivers with vehicles of 12 tons or more. Out of the drivers who participated in the study, 530 had crashed during a long distance trip and 517 had not had a crash in the last twelve months. 
Controlling for other factors including age, breaks taken, sleep patterns, and kilometers driven, a connection between caffeine use and the risk of crashing was found. Drivers who drank caffeinated drinks or took caffeine pills to stay alert during long distance trips were 63% less likely to crash than drivers who did not. 
On the downside, the drivers who regularly consumed caffeine also reported less sleep and longer driving hours, suggesting that caffeine can affect sleep patterns in a negative way. 
The study also discovered a significant link between previous crashes and the risk of crashing, with drivers that have experienced a crash in the past five years being 81% more likely to crash again. Heavy smoking was also associated with an increase in the risk of crashing, but the relationship was not as strong once researchers controlled for other factors. 
These results prove caffeine could be an effective tool for long distance commercial drivers as well as other shift workers, but it is important to note that the caffeine only serves as a short time solution. A healthier method to staying alert would involve taking regular breaks, napping, and following appropriate work schedules. 
Source: British Medical Journal, March 2013
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