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Study Shows Caffeine Can Help Drowsy Drivers

You’re driving, it’s late…and you’re getting tired. You think about stopping for coffee, but you’re not sure it will make a difference. Now we know the answer.

A recent Australian study compared caffeine use in 530 long-distance truck drivers who had crashed their vehicles with caffeine use in 517 truck drivers who had not crashed. They found that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, can reduce the risk of drowsy driving accidents by as much as 63 percent.

The research was published in the March 19 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Will that cup of coffee work for you? It depends. First of all, you need a lot of caffeine to make a difference. The researchers found that two cups of coffee will keep you awake for about 45 minutes. So, while caffeine can reduce accident risk in the short-term, it’s not a good substitute for sleep. If you’ve got a long way to drive, it is better to pull over and take a nap. A fifteen-minute snooze can keep you alert for about two hours.

Falling asleep isn’t the only risk of driving drowsy. Sleepy drivers have delayed reactions and impaired judgment. Driving when severely drowsy (no sleep for 20 hours or longer) is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Our Wisonsin attorneys have compiled this list of tips to help you avoid driving drowsy.

  • Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or a medication that causes drowsiness.
  • Avoid driving when you have had fewer than six hours of sleep. If you must go somewhere when you are very tired, take public transportation or ask a friend for a ride.
  • If you are going on a long trip, get a full night’s sleep before driving.
  • Bring a friend to share the driving.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Avoid driving very early in the morning or very late at night.
  • Avoid driving alone at night, especially if you are tired.
  • Drink coffee, but remember you need to drink a lot of coffee and the caffeine can only help for a short time.
  • If you are too exhausted to drive, find a safe place to take a nap. Fifteen minutes of sleep can leave you refreshed for a few more hours.

The auto accident lawyers at Hupy and Abraham, help those injured in drowsy driving accidents and other car crashes in Wisconsin. To learn how we can help you, contact us at 800-800-5678. The initial consultation is always free.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham
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