According to a recent study, truck drivers who consume large amounts of coffee or energy drink per day to an increased likelihood of crashes. With hours of service rules suspended for select drivers because of the current health crisis, more drivers are spending more time behind the wheel. This means that more drivers are likely using caffeine and other stimulants to stay alert.
The study, co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Transport Institute, went on to say that short-term use was okay. Still, high caffeine consumption over longer periods is associated with an uptick in the number of crashes. This theory is supported by such data as:
- Drivers reporting a high caffeine consumption have reported crashes in the last three years at a 6% higher rate than those who drink a cup or less.
- Drivers who drink at least five cups of coffee (which puts them in the 90th percentile of average coffee consumption in the U.S.) reported poorer sleep, more alcohol consumption, a higher rate of using nicotine, a poor diet, and lower overall health.
A symptom, not a cause
The study falls short of saying that coffee was responsible for the higher number of crashes. Still, it regards caffeine consumption to be an indicator of drivers who engage in many unhealthy habits. These other lifestyle choices also contribute to the increased number of crashes.
A holistic solution
Regulating the number of hours a trucker drives does help make the roads safer for the rest of us. Researchers also recommend advocating for a healthier lifestyle for drivers to reduce the number of crashes, but inducing drivers to go along with it could be difficult.
The data was collected from 11,000 drivers based in California, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. The researchers then focused on 3,000 drivers who drank five or more cups of coffee or one cup or less. It also enquired about all stimulants, although coffee was by far the most common.
Drivers health could be a financial liability
Not all healthy drivers are safe drivers, nor are all unhealthy drivers unsafe drivers, but it does raise questions about the health of drivers operating 80,000 pounds of machinery. It would seem wise from a financial perspective that trucking companies and their insurers find a way to improve the drivers’ health and well-being, so truckers cause fewer crashes on the roads.