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Truckers more liable to crash when they drink more coffee

In Missouri and across the U.S., truck drivers struggle with staying awake on the job, and many resort to drinking lots of coffee to get by. While this can be advantageous in the short term, researchers say that excessively drinking coffee over the long term can harm drivers’ health and make them more liable to crash.

A U.K. transport safety lecturer partnered with the Virginia Tech Transport Institute to conduct a study some 3,000 truckers. These were chosen from a pool of 11,000 truckers in eight states because of their coffee-drinking habits. One group said it drinks one cup of coffee a day, and the other said it drinks more than five cups.

Asked if they had been involved in an accident in the three years prior to the study, 21.6% of the low coffee drinkers and 27.8% of the high coffee drinkers said yes. Researchers are not saying for certain that there is a cause-effect relationship between coffee consumption and this 6% difference. Another finding seems to solidify it, though. It’s that the high coffee drinkers reported being in poor health, getting little sleep and eating unhealthily.

Previous studies analyzed how caffeine affects people in the abstract. This study is unique, however, in its exploration of actual drivers’ coffee-drinking habits. It may open the way for further research.

Truckers who drive on despite poor health and lack of sleep and who cause truck accidents as a result may be held liable for the other side’s injuries. It could be that the trucking company will face a personal injury claim. Victims, for their part, may want a lawyer to assess their case and see how much they might be eligible for in light of this state’s comparative negligence law.