Caffeine May Be Solution To Reducing Crashes, Study Finds


  • 2013 Lincoln MKZ Picture

    2013 Lincoln MKZ Picture

    The 2013 Lincoln MKZ features a fancy driver-alert system to help with road safety, but a new study finds that a simple cup of coffee could also reduce crashes. | March 27, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • A new study suggests that a caffeinated drink may reduce the risk of a long-haul truck driver crashing by 63 percent.
  • The study says while caffeine is not the silver-bullet solution to road safety, caffeine is useful as part of a wider strategy.
  • The 2013 Lincoln MKZ, MKS and MKT offer an optional driver alert system that displays a cup of coffee on the instrument cluster screen if it detects that a driver is drowsy.

PAGEWOOD, Australia — A new study suggests that a caffeinated drink may reduce the risk of a long-haul truck driver crashing by 63 percent.

Australian researcher Lisa Sharwood of the George Institute for Global Health says while caffeine is not the silver-bullet solution to road safety, caffeine is useful as part of a wider strategy.

Automakers are racing each other to come up with creative ways to combat drowsy driving. For instance, the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, MKS and MKT offer an optional driver alert system that displays a cup of coffee on the instrument cluster screen if it detects that a driver is drowsy.

But the new study finds that coffee and caffeinated drinks may be a cheaper way to go. The study examined data on 530 drivers recently involved in a crash, comparing them with 517 who were accident-free within the past 12 months.

Sharwood calculated the likelihood of a crash associated with the use of substances containing caffeine after adjustment for factors including age, health disorders, sleep patterns, and symptoms of sleep disorders as well as exposures such as distance driven, hours slept, breaks taken and night driving schedules. Drivers who consumed caffeine had a 63 percent reduced likelihood of crashing compared with drivers who did not take caffeinated substances.

Driver fatigue is alive and well, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash data estimates that about one in six (16.5 percent) deadly crashes involve a driver who is drowsy.

"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," Sharwood concluded in her report.

Edmunds says: A cuppa Joe makes for a great copilot.

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