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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Investigates Association between Caffeine Use and Safety among Truck Drivers

In a study designed to explore the associations between caffeinated beverage use and significant safety events by age among a sample group of truck drivers who are habitual caffeine users, Dr. Karen Heaton, associate professor in the School of Nursing, and Dr. Russell L. Griffin, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, analyzed existing data from the Naturalistic Truck Driving Study, focusing on “the association between sleep and caffeinated beverage consumption by duty status, comparisons of sleep and caffeinated beverage use by age, and the associations between caffeine use and safety-critical events (SCEs).”


[Photo: Dr. Karen Heaton]

Although the findings show differences in caffeinated beverage use by duty status, there was no variance in sleep time by duty status or between sleep time and caffeinated beverage use (regardless of when caffeine was consumed during the five-hour period before sleep). No significant difference in sleep time was detected by age; however, decreased caffeinated beverage use was associated with increasing age. Overall, a reduction of 6 percent in the rate of SCEs was found per eight ounces of caffeinated beverage imbibed.


[Photo: Dr. Russell L. Griffin]

“This study makes a unique scientific contribution because it uses real-time observations of truckers in the naturalistic work setting. It also does not involve caffeine withdrawal but rather an investigation of the effects of the naturalistic consumption of caffeine on sleep and driving performance. Findings suggest that caffeine use among habitual users offers a protective effect for safety-critical driving events. Occupational health nurses may use this information to counsel workers in the use of caffeine to enhance driving safety,” conclude Drs. Heaton and Griffin.

“The Effects of Caffeine Use on Driving Safety Among Truck Drivers Who Are Habitual Caffeine Users” was published online in July in the journal Workplace Health & Safety.

Journal article: