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Long-distance truck drivers who consumed caffeine were less likely to fall asleep at the wheel than those who did not take any caffeinated substances, the study found.
Caffeine can help prevent road accidents, an Australian study has found.
Researchers from the University of Sydney compared 530 commercial vehicle drivers who had recently crashed with 517 who had not.
After adjusting for factors such as age, sleep patterns and kilometers driven, the study found drivers who consumed coffee, tea or caffeine energy drinks were 63 percent less likely to fall asleep at the wheel than those who did not take any caffeinated substances.
The results were published in the British Medical Journal on Tuesday.
“While comprehensive mandated strategies for fatigue management remain a priority, the use of caffeinated substances could be a useful adjunct strategy in the maintenance of alertness while driving,” the researchers said.
The paper said 43 percent of drivers in the survey reported using caffeine to stay awake; only three percent reported using illegal stimulants such as amphetamine.
But the researchers noted that it was not clear what benefited tired drivers most – a nap, a short walk or caffeine – and further study was required.
The BBC reported that UK road safety experts say sleep, is the only real cure for fatigue, and they recommend drivers “get a good night’s sleep” before climbing behind the wheel.
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