Can Caffeine Replace Sleep for Drivers?

Coffee and Drowsy Driving accidents
Coffee Cannot Replace the Rest Required for Safe Driving

By Elisabeth Campbell

It’s Monday morning at 6:15 a.m.  The alarm is going off for the fourth time this morning after you’ve hit the snooze three times already.  You know it’s time to get up and face the world, whether you are ready or not.  You stumble through the morning routine of getting ready for work, pour the coffee from your pre-programmed coffee pot into your thermos, and you are out the door.  The drive to work is hazardous, as is any trip down the road, but here in just a few minutes, the caffeine from that first sip of coffee will begin to take effect, and you will be wide awake and alert as you drive.  Maybe you will feel alert, but can caffeine really replace a good night’s sleep for drivers?

The Science and Effect of Caffeine

Caffeine, commonly found in coffee and tea, is the world’s most popular stimulant.  When consumed, caffeine blocks the body’s A1 receptors, which makes the person feel more awake and alert, and caffeine blocks the body’s A2A receptors, increasing dopamine, and causing a stimulating effect.  Simply, caffeine makes the consumer feel more awake and alert, and helps them accomplish tasks more quickly and efficiently.

However, the effects change when caffeine is consumed regularly.  If caffeine is consumed more than about twice per week, the consumer can become addicted and the effects will be lessened.  The effect of feeling more awake and alert does not seem to change over time.  If someone drinks coffee every morning, it will help him feel more alert every morning.  However, the stimulant property of caffeine lessens with tolerance.  The consumer may feel able to accomplish tasks more efficiently, but in reality, he is prone to make more mistakes and possibly cause a collision.

How Caffeine Affects Rested Drivers

An interesting study was done by Utrecht University in the Netherlands, which tested the effects of caffeine on well-rested drivers.  In the study, 24 well-rested people drove on a monotonous highway for two hours, then had a 15-minute break in which they drank coffee.  One group had regular caffeinated coffee, and the other group had decaffeinated coffee.  Then, they drove for another two hours down the monotonous highway.

The results were clear that the group that had the caffeinated coffee objectively drove more steadily than the group with decaffeinated coffee, and the caffeinated group subjectively reported feeling more alert and in control of the vehicle than the group with decaffeinated coffee.  Certainly, the caffeine had a positive stimulating effect.  However, as is seen in the next section, the findings are different for people who are sleep deprived.

How Caffeine Affects Sleep-Deprived People

Another study was done to see how people’s performance compared with caffeine, with a nap, or with neither.  All three groups were trained in an exercise to perform a task during the morning.  In the early afternoon, one group took a 90-minute nap, while the others were doing a relaxing activity (but not allowed to sleep).  After 90 minutes, the nap group was awakened, and the other two groups were given a pill.  One group was given a caffeine pill, and the other group was given a placebo.  Then, the groups were tested on the tasks they had learned in the morning.

As you may have expected, those who took naps did much better than those who used caffeine.  This could be attributed to the finding that sleep increases memory and motor skill function.  However, the very interesting finding in this study was that those who had the placebo outperformed their caffeinated counterparts in the given tasks.  Clearly, the stimulant effect of caffeine was not beneficial to the consumers when they began to feel fatigued in the afternoon.

How Caffeine Affects Sleep-deprived Drivers

It can be deduced from the above study that caffeine is not likely to be helpful for sleep-deprived drivers.  In fact, driving without caffeine at all is probably safer, even if the driver feels sleepier.  The study that follows brings some alarming findings regarding caffeine consumption before driving.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists has said that a study showed that caffeine consumption is dangerous for sleep-deprived drivers.  The positive effects of caffeine on their alertness while driving is very temporary, and when the caffeine begins to wear off, the safety of the motorists’ driving plummets.  Actually, it was said to affect their driving in a way similar to alcohol.

Typically, when consumers begin to feel the effect of caffeine waning, their response is to consume more caffeine.  However, this is not effective.  As was discussed earlier, when caffeine is overconsumed, the consumer feels more alert, but the stimulant property cannot be repeated indefinitely.  In fact, this study showed that using caffeine for only the second time within a few hours did not provide a stimulant effect.

Conclusion

In short, that thermos of coffee in the car on Monday morning is not a good substitute for simply going to bed earlier on Sunday night.  While caffeine has a positive effect on safe driving for rested motorists, it has a significantly negative effect on sleep-deprived drivers.  The true danger in caffeine consumption in conjunction with driving is that drivers think they are more alert and able to drive more safely when they are less equipped to drive safely.

The best remedy for this safety concern is to simply get more sleep.  However, that can be difficult with the busy schedules that so many people have, so it becomes more critical to get the best sleep possible during the few hours that can be devoted to sleep.  A few tips that WebMD gives for making the most of your sleep are:

  • Putting away electronic devices and turning off screens an hour before bed
  • Making the bed as comfortable as possible
  • Keeping the room temperature between 68 and 72 degrees
  • Get regular exercise at least three hours before bed

Following tips like these will make you feel better the next morning, and make your drive to work safer with or without caffeine.

Sources:

NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22315048

Autocar https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/coffee-can-badly-affect-driving

Bulletproof Musician http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/naps-vs-coffee-which-is-a-better-choice-for-the-sleep-deprived-musician/

Examine.com https://examine.com/nutrition/science-behind-caffeine/

WebMD http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/discomfort-15/better-sleep/slideshow-sleep-tips

Hands-Free Devices are Not Risk-Free

Hands-free is not risk free!  Distractions are a top factor in fatal car crashes, and the percent of these fatal crashes is increasing, not decreasing.  Reversing a 40-year trend of decrease, in 2015 fatal vehicle crashes were up 7.5% and up 8% in 2016.

According to Accident Attorneys, a National Safety and Legal Resource for personal injury attorneys and those seeking such legal assistance, improved car safety technology and driver education contributed to the decrease in fatalities in past years.  As gas prices have dropped and use of electronic devices while driving has increased, the increase of roadway deaths has also increased.

The NHTSA reports that 10 percent of all fatal crashes involving young drivers (ages 16 to 24) resulted from distracted driving.

Hands free not risk free
Provided by The National Safety Council

 

Marion County Multi-Vehicle Accident on I-79 Caused by Teen Driver Injures 6

Sheriff Deputy Hit While Helping a Disabled Truck
Sheriff Deputy Injured While Aiding a Semi-Truck

Rear End Collision on I-79 near Fairmont, WV Caused by 17-Year-Old Driver

Six people were transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital Monday evening after a vehicle accident on I-79 in Marion County.  Authorities responded to a tractor trailer on fire near exit 139 on I-79 around 8:15 p.m.

A deputy was putting down flares to divert traffic from the right lane into the left lane and was hit by a vehicle.

The driver of the first vehicle, followed the deputies instructions to move lanes. As Sutherland was switching lanes, a second vehicle, driven by a 17-year-old, approached and failed to notice the deputy or the flares. The vehicle driven by the 17-year-old rear-ended the first vehicle, which spun the vehicle around hitting the deputy that was directing traffic.

The deputy flew approximately 40 feet into the ditch line. The deputy was transported to Ruby Memorial Hospital and is reportedly in stable condition. There is no word on the extent of his injuries.

The two drivers, as well as three passengers, were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital.

Charges are pending against the 17-year-old.

Source:  WV Always (WBOY News) 6 People Taken to Hospital after Marion County Accident, January 17, 2017

 

Miracle Baby in a Drainage Ditch Story Illustrates the Need for Secure Child Seats

The most amazing thing happened along I-30 this week when a tractor-trailer sideswiped  car also traveling down the the interstate, tearing the door off the vehicle and causing the car to flip.  The driver, a mother, and her baby were ejected from the vehicle.  Her car seat was soon found, but the infant wasn’t in it.

A short time later, a good samaritan who was searching the area heard some noises from some piles of hay alongside the highway.  He continued his search, and found that an eight-month-old baby was sitting up in the bottom of a drainage ditch, holding out her arms to be picked up.  She wasn’t screaming, wasn’t crying… merely waiting.

Drainage Ditch Where Baby Was Found
Drainage Ditch Where Baby Was Found

The drainage ditch was about 25 feet from the roadway.  It is imagined that the baby rolled down the hill after the semi hit the car and caused the accident, and landed in the drain, sustaining only a scratch on her forehead.  It took three firefighters to get her out.

The mother and four other people were taken to the hospital for more serious injuries.

Miracle Baby After Rescue

Miracle Baby Thrown From Car and Survived
Miracle Baby
Police confirmed that the child was not properly restrained in the car seat at the time of the semi-truck accident and that the car seat was also not properly installed.
The driver of the truck was cited for an improper and unsafe lane change.

Car Seat Safety

Miracles can and do happen, but you can’t count on a miracle to save your child in the event of an accident.  Make sure your baby is properly secured in the car seat, and that the seat itself is securely fastened into your vehicle.
Car Seat Properly Installed
Car Seat Properly Installed

Tips For Keeping Your Little Ones Safe:

    • Read the car seat instruction manual and the portion of your vehicle’s owner’s manual on car seat installation. Every car seat needs to be installed using either the lower anchors of the LATCH system or the seat belt to secure it in place. If you choose to use a seat belt to install your car seat, pay close attention to how to lock your seat belt in the vehicle owner’s manual. Because every car seat and vehicle is different, it’s important to follow all instructions carefully.
    • Place the car seat in the back seat of your vehicle and follow the manufacturer’s installation directions.
    • The car seat must be secured tightly in the vehicle. It should not move side-to-side or front-to-back more than 1 inch when pulled at the belt path.
    • If it is a forward-facing seat and has a top tether strap, connect it to the tether anchor and tighten. This step is very important as it limits forward head movement in a crash.
    • If it is a rear-facing seat, make sure the car seat is installed at the correct recline angle. Most car seats have built-in angle indicators or adjustors that help with this step.

Learn More About What You Should Do After a Collision

Get 7 Tips for Car Accident Claims


Sources:

CNN, Infant Ejected from Car is Found Alive in Storm Drain, November 28, 2016

USA Today, Thrown from Car, Baby is Found Safe in Storm Drain, November 28, 2016

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), The Right Fit, Car Seat Installation 

 

Legal Insight: Night-time Truck Accidents

Truck Accident, night
Morgantown WV Night Truck Accidents: WV Truck Accident Law | Morgantown Truck Accident Lawyer Explains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night Truck Accidents, WV, I-79 and I-68

By Attorney Jeffery L. Robinette, Personal Injury and Legal Malpractice Representation

The federal department of transportation guidelines for commercial motor vehicles provide explicit directives and warnings regarding the safe operation of tractor trailers.    An empty  tractor trailer can stop quicker and respond faster to emergencies on the road than a fully loaded one.

Night driving dictates even more safety precautions because a tractor trailer operator can only respond to emergency situations he observes — if his speed exceeds the illuminated area of his headlights, then the driver will not be able to safely respond to an emergency situation until it is too late which may cause a fatal truck accident similar to the many devastating collisions we hear about on I-79 and I-68 near Morgantown.

During daytime driving, the visibility may be a quarter mile ahead, so a driver can see and anticipate how to respond to an emergency situation in time to avoid a collision.   At night, the illumination may only give a driver 200 feet of visibility, but his speed at 70 miles per hour may require every bit of that distance to stop his truck, depending on his load weight and road conditions.   If the driver is exceeding the posted speed limit at night, he won’t be able to see problem areas ahead in time to stop safely — hence, his stopping distance will exceed the illumination distance of his head lights.

It is quite obvious which tractor trailers are loaded on an uphill grade, but on level ground and certainly going downhill, heavily loaded trucks are especially vulnerable to collisions because they have little ability to slow down if there is an emergency situation ahead of them.

While there are many exceptional truck drivers who take great care to keep the public safe, there are others that exceed safe speeds, tailgate passenger vehicles, and fail to keep their trucks mechanically safe for operation.

Wrongful Death Investigations of Fatal Truck Accidents

In investigating fatal truck accident cases, it is imperative to pursue facts that point to truck driver fatigue or other types of negligence. Driver logs must be examined, hotel receipts, GPS devices, black box evidence, dash cam videos, and other sources of evidence that paint a picture of the circumstances leading to the accident.

This thorough approach gives the best possible chance of obtaining favorable results for an injured person or a family after filing a wrongful death claim after a fatal collision.

These big-rig truck accidents are the result of the volatile combination of speed and weight, causing a situation which is too often much more devastating than any other type of vehicle collision.

The most common causes of commercial truck accidents include:

Questions?  Contact Us Today & Learn How We Can Help.

Sources:

Comprehensive Q&A about Truck Accidents

WBOY News:  One Dead After Multi-vehicle Accident on I-79

Preston County WV Worker Killed at a Coal Mine Reclamation Site

Worker Killed in Preston County at Mine Reclamation Site

KINGWOOD, WV: – A contract worker helping in the installation of a water treatment system at the former Decondor Coal site in Preston County died on the job Tuesday when a ditch at a mine reclamation site caved in on him.  This worker was employed by Breakaway Inc. out of Sutton, West Virginia.

When a mining permit for this location was revoked, the reclamation work responsibility was transferred to the state.

The local police and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate the incident to determine the cause, fault, and possible negligence or safety violations.

Click Here to Learn More about the Legal and Criminal Ramifications After a Workplace Accident or Fatality and a Family’s Legal Rights

How Long Will it Take to Receive a Settlement for My Injury Case?

West Virginia Attorney Explains:  How Long will it Take to Settle my Case?

WV Personal Injury Attorney and Legal Malpractice Specialist:

A common question I receive from clients is, “How long will it take for me to get a settlement?” The short answer is, if your injuries are minor, it can take just a few months to get your case settled.  However, if your injuries are severe your injuries and may require extended medical treatment, the longer it will take to settle your injury claim.

Insurance companies particularly require proof of your claim. We have to obtain medical records, employment records, expert reports, and those have to be synthesized and sent to the insurance company with the demand package and that process can take many months even for minor injury claims to resolve.

On the other hand, if your injuries are more serious or even life-threatening, they can take much longer: a year or two is not uncommon.

If you settle your case too early, even a minor injury case, and you find out that you should not have settled it because there were other parts of your injury that you didn’t know about, then you are foreclosed forever from pursuing any additional amounts of recovery because you settled early.

So, it’s best to be patient with the process in order to allow you to work with your attorney to make sure that all of your injuries are well established and documented.  Then, when the claim is sent into the insurance company, the full value of your claim will be considered by the insurance company.

So, always seek good legal advice as to when you should settle your case. Don’t take that decision upon yourself.

“Every good personal injury attorney wants his or her cases to move along towards resolution as expeditiously as possible but, every case is different and you never want to ‘sell a case short’ on value just for the sake of wrapping it up.” Steven M. Sweat, nationally recognized injury attorney.

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What if I already Settled My Case?  Can I get out of it?

For some of you, if you have already settled your case, the information in this post will only reinforce why you may feel so bad right now as you face all the problems that the insurance adjuster did not tell you about . The amount of money sounded good at first, but now that things have not worked out well for you, you have serious second thoughts about settling your case on your own . Let’s take a look at what can be done to address some of your concerns .

The first question you probably are wondering is whether you can get out of the settlement. The answer is, possibly, but only if the settlement was agreed to within 20 days after the auto collision.

West Virginia law allows you to void this settlement, but you must do so within 180 days from the date of the auto collision . If you reached a settlement more than 20 days after the collision, then the settlement is binding and enforceable unless you can prove that the insurance company defrauded you in some manner.

If you have questions about personal injury claims in West Virginia, don’t hesitate to call our office for a free case review:  304.594.1800 or after hours, 304.216.6695.

Visit our website for more answers to commonly asked questions about motor vehicle accident claims, insurance disputes, professional malpractice, and other personal injury claims.

Morgantown, West Virginia Personal Injury Attorney

Jeff Robinette, Morgantown WV Personal Injury Lawyer, Auto Collision Attorney

Author Jeff Robinette, Morgantown WV Personal Injury Attorney, has been designated as a Super Lawyer, National Board Certified Trial Attorney, member of the Multi-million Dollar Advocates Forum, and was recently selected as a Litigator Awards recipient, designating Mr. Robinette as a Top 1% attorney for personal injury and medical malpractice claims in West Virginia.

 

Related Posts:

West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer

Why You Should See a Doctor after a Vehicle Accident.

What To Do After a Car Accident?

Injured In A Car Accident In West Virginia? Know Your Legal Rights!

 

Morgantown Firefighter Injured by Drunk Driver

Two Morgantown firefighters, heroes to their families and the Morgantown community, were taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital after a drunken driver slammed into them as they were responding to a fire on Richwood Avenue. The injuries are non-life threatening, but serious none the less.

One fireman was treated and released, and the more seriously injured firefighter was kept overnight for additional treatment as a direct result of being run over in the accident caused by the drunk driver. The incident occurred at around 11:15 p.m., Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

Fire Truck
Morgantown Firefighters Injured by Drunk Driver

One of the firemen got out of the truck at the scene and that’s when the drunk driver drove left of center trying to pass the fire trucks and hit the fireman and one of the trucks. The woman driving apparently drug the victim 20-25 feet and ran over his leg before coming to a stop.

Fortunately for these firefighters, their medical bills should be covered by workers compensation coverage.   However, since the State Workers Compensation Fund was abandoned several years ago, these type of claims are being handled by private insurance companies such as Brickstreet Insurance.

The private insurance companies use adjusters to handle these claims and most injured workers have a hard time getting their treatments and bills paid.     Since these insurance companies cannot be sued for bad faith (thanks to laws that protect them), they typically handle these claims the way they want to, without any interference from the judicial system.

Another problem these firefighters face is getting full compensation for their injuries.    Even if the workers compensation insurance companies treat them fairly, they are only compensated for a fraction of their compensable injuries.    The party that caused their injuries often don’t have any or enough insurance coverage to compensate them, and complex insurance coverage issues often accompany these types of claims.

A Morgantown woman is facing charges of DUI causing injury after hitting the Morgantown fireman with her vehicle while driving under the influence Wednesday night.

Help for Morgantown Injury Claims

At Robinette Legal Group, we handle claims like these every day and have the experience to help injured workers navigate through the complex web of insurance coverage issues and laws.   We would be pleased to help you and the initial consultation is absolutely free:  304-594-1800 or after hours  304-216-6695.

Source:

WDTV News: Driver Charged with DUI After Hitting Morgantown Fireman, Shannon Chavez, November 19, 2015.

Read more about a person’s rights after being hit by a drunk driver:  Morgantown Drunk Driver Accidents and Injuries

Lawsuits Filed After Scaffolding Collapses

Construction workers face danger daily in the ordinary course of their workday. Even so, when a work site has been secured by safety procedures which have been carefully implemented, builders have every reasonable expectation of returning home to their families intact.  When an ordinary work day turns disastrous and lives are forever changed, these hard-working men and women can no longer provide for their families.  After a construction accident, what remedy exists for the injured to obtain necessary medical care and for these families to build new lives?

In October, 2015, two tragic scaffold collapses in Houston, Texas have resulted in injuries, deaths, and at least one worker left in a vegetative state.  So, who was at fault, and who will provide care for these workers and their families?

Building Scaffolding
Building Construction, Scaffold Collapse

Investigations are on-going, and whether the collapses were caused by anchors at the top of the building breaking loose after these anchors were improperly secured, faulty construction or materials used in building the scaffolding, faulty concrete causing a lack of integrity in the soundness of the scaffold’s attachment to the building, or bolts not properly secured, the investigations will point to the parties or party responsible for the failure of the scaffolding to provide protection and support.

Some of these workers will suffer life-long injuries, and will most likely collect Worker’s Compensation benefits, unless the companies involved have opted out of Worker’s Comp Insurance as provided by Texas law.  Many large retailers, trucking companies, health care, and food companies have already opted out, which means the employer has almost complete control over the medical and legal process after workers are injured.

Worker’s Compensation exists because employers owe a duty to workers injured on the job and their families and pays for the workers’ medical bills and lost wages.  According to an investigation by ProPublica and NPR, the Texas alternative to Worker’s Comp usually cuts off treatment after two years and doesn’t pay compensation for most permanent disabilities and strictly limits payouts in the event of a death or catastrophic injury.

The families directly affected by these scaffolding collapses in October have retained lawyers to obtain any and all benefits due to them as a results of the workplace accident which has caused these horrific injuries.  Their construction accident attorney will investigate the cause of the accident, the extent of injuries and long-term impact on these individuals and their families, and whether or not a third party can be sued, such as the contracting company which installed the scaffold system or the manufacturer of the scaffolding.

These families have acted wisely in obtaining legal representation right away.  All states have a time limit (statute of limitations for work injuries) for injury claim lawsuits to be filed, and as time passes, evidence and witnesses can become difficult or impossible to find.

The personal injury lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC based in Morgantown have represented many construction accident victims in West Virginia during the past twenty-five years, and are ready to help you if you have been hurt or are suffering after the death of a loved one.  We have successfully handled a wide variety of claims ranging from slip and fall injuries to wrongful deaths from coal mine explosions and power plant accidents.  If you were injured in West Virginia, protect your legal rights by calling us today for a free case evaluation:  304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

 

WV Lawsuit After Severe Head Injury in Coal Mine

West Virginia Coal Miner Injured, Files Lawsuit

Brain Injury, Work Accident
Brain Injury, WV Coal Mine Accident

Every year, miners suffer serious injuries due to the decisions of coal operators to violate safety regulations. The employers in this industry are obligated by law to meet certain standards in order to keep miners as safe as possible, and when they neglect this responsibility the consequences can be catastrophic.

According to the complaint, despite pointing out a safety hazard regarding the height of the mine roof and track conditions to the defendants on several occasions, the plaintiff says the companies never addressed the problem.

On Aug. 3, 2013, the plaintiff was traveling on the back of a transport vehicle in the mine, without a hard hat, when his head hit the roof protrusion that he and other employees had noted to the defendants. The complaint also states that the employees that operated the man-trip did so at unsafe speeds and that the plaintiff did not have time to react to avoid the hazard.

The resulting injuries were severe, the suit claims, including traumatic brain injury, impaired mobility and activities of daily living, permanent scarring and physical impairment. Both defendants have suffered lost wages and benefits, future earning capacity, future medical expenses and past medical expenses totaling nearly $1 million.

Edward Ellis Jr. and Tina Ellis filed the suit Aug. 3 in Wyoming Circuit Court against Pinnacle Mining Co., Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., Cliffs North American Coal Inc., Cliffs Logan County Coal LLC, Cliffs West Virginia Coal Inc. and Cliffs Mining Services Company.

Related Articles:

Coal Mine Roof Collapse Results in Two Deaths in Boone County, WV

New Regulations Mandate Proximity Sensors for Continuous Mining Machines to Prevent Crushing Injuries and Death

West Virginia Man Accused of Falsifying Safety Mine Records

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Mining Fatality