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Does high caffeine intake indicate higher risk of truck crashes?

Back in March, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a national declaration that temporarily suspended hours-of-service regulations for truck drivers transporting emergency relief products and certain critical materials needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

A recent news article pointed out that many of those exempted truckers will drink more coffee and energy drinks in efforts to stay alert. However, a recently published study states that long-term high-caffeine consumption is linked to an increased risk of commercial truck crashes.

Data from about 3,000 truck drivers from eight states (North Carolina was not included) was analyzed.

The study states that truck drivers who regularly consume a lot of caffeine in coffee or energy drinks have involved in nearly 6 percent more crashes over the past three years than truckers who consumed smaller amounts of caffeine.

Researchers found that truckers who daily drank five cups of coffee or more (putting them in the 90th percentile in the U.S. for caffeine consumption) also reported poorer overall health, sleep issues, heavier alcohol consumption, poorer diets and a greater likelihood to smoke.

It should be noted that the study did not determine that heavier caffeine consumption leads to truck wrecks, but rather that heavier caffeine consumption might well be part of a pattern of unhealthy behavior that contributes to crashes.

The lead researcher told Fleet Owner that it’s “probable that many factors about driver health combine to influence crash risk and driving safety. Because of the association between negative health behaviors and caffeine use, it is recommended to take a holistic approach to improve driver health more broadly, rather than specifically targeting sleepiness.”

If you or a family member has been harmed in a commercial vehicle wreck, contact a Raleigh attorney experienced in truck accident litigation.

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