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:

Drowsy Driving Guide: Risks and Preventions

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 

 

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

Fatal Accident on Grafton Road near Morgantown WalMart

Monongalia County authorities have responded to a head-on vehicle accident on Grafton Road in Morgantown that happened at about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 28th, 2015.

Head on collisions occur from a variety of reasons including DUI, distracted driving, inclement weather, health conditions, falling asleep at the wheel, and traveling the wrong way on a one-way lane or approach, texting while driving, brake failure, tire blowout, dangerous road conditions, and speeding.  Whatever the cause, the result is often tragic and ends in great loss for individuals and families.

A white car, driven by an Arthurdale man in his 20s, was traveling southbound on Grafton Road when it crossed the center line and struck a flatbed truck head-on, according to state police. Grafton Road was shut down for a couple of hours. According to WV State Police in Morgantown and MECCA 911, the driver of the white car was killed.

The driver of the flatbed truck was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

State police are investigating the exact cause of this collision.

Sources:

WBOY News: https://www.facebook.com/wboy12news

WAJR News: http://wajr.com/one-dead-in-monongalia-county-wreck/

 

Fatal Two Car Accident in Preston County WV

Head-on collisions result in tragedies which change lives and families forever. About ten percent of all fatal road accidents result from head on collisions, and 75% of these occur on rural roads and two lane highways.  These are the most dangerous of accidents and often result in very serious injuries.  Failure to negotiate a curve in the road is a cause of about a fourth of these wrecks, which is certainly a known hazard in Preston County.

Often speed, distracted driving, and falling asleep are factors in one driver crossing the center line and causing a collision with a second vehicle.  These accidents often result in concussions, broken bones, loss of limbs, knee injuries, shoulder and back injuries, and sometime death.

Kingwood, WV:  Recently, one person was killed and three others injured in a head-on crash along Veterans Memorial Highway in Preston County.  The two-vehicle accident involving a pickup truck and a sedan occurred Tuesday evening around 5 p.m.  The two people in the pickup truck were transported to Preston Memorial Hospital.

Elizabeth Renshaw, 83, of Kingwood, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.  She was a passenger in the car driven by Thomas Renshaw, Jr., 64, of Roanoke Rapids, N.C. HealthNet was summoned to fly Thomas Renshaw to the hospital for treatment for his injuries.  The collision involved a Nissan and a Ford 150.  Both people in the truck, Anthony Runner and Courtlin Hicks, both age 30, were transported to Preston Memorial Hospital.  The extent of their injuries is not publically known.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation and it is not yet known why one of the vehicles crossed the center line.

Compensation for Injuries Resulting from West Virginia Accidents

If the accident has been caused by another negligent driver, after seeking medical attention, the next most important thing to do is to seek compensation for your losses.  As a victim of a car accident you must ensure that you rights are protected and that you receive the rightful compensation. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, loss of wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and disability.  To learn about your legal rights, call The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC  for a free consultation with an attorney.

Click Here to Visit our Website to learn more about car accident injury claims.

Sources:

 WV MetroNews, “One Dead, Three Injured in Preston County Crash” Dave Wilson, April 15, 2015.

The Dominion Post, “One Killed In Preston County Crash,” April 15, 2015.

Four Ambulance Workers Taken to Local Hospitals after Collision on Route 250

Ambulance and Emergency Rescue squad medical personnel are some of the hardest working individuals in West Virginia, witnessing scenarios no one wants to see and helping injured people in Monongalia and Marion Counties in the aftermath of horrific situations and collisions.  These situations  require immediate skilled medical assistance; at times rescue workers must work extremely long hours.

It is a real tragedy when the emergency workers, in the course of their duties, become the accident victims after they have devoted so much time and effort to helping others.

This week we heard about the two vehicle collision in Marion County on Route 250 that sent four emergency rescue workers to two hospitals. The patient they were transporting died in the collision, and the Marion County Rescue Squad employees were badly injured.

Links to News about the Ambulance Collision:

WBOY News, 1 Dead After Ambulance Collision on Route 250 in Marion County,” September 22, 2014.

West Virginia MetroNews:One dead after Marion County ambulance wreck,” Jeff Jenkins, September 22, 2014.

 

Two Teens Killed in Head-on Collision on Fairmont Road

A sad and horribly tragic beginning to a new school year:  Five young people in two vehicles were involved in a fatal head-on collision on Fairmont Road just outside of Morgantown near the intersection with Sugar Grove Road on Sunday, August 17, 2014. At least two of those injured or killed in this wreck were Monongalia County teens from UHS (one a recent graduate and the other still a student).   Due to the sheer physics involved in head-on collisions, the resulting injuries are typically severe and catastrophic.  As a Morgantown car accident attorney, I have counseled many in such times of grief and realize that for each person killed,  parents, siblings, spouses, teachers, colleagues, and friends find their lives forever changed by what has  happened.

As parents of teens, we are all too aware that car accidents are the leading cause of teenage deaths. The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group. In fact, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.  Statistics do nothing to console, but it is important to remember you are not alone, and should not have to go through this without help.

If you want more information, need questions answered, or if you need help regarding car accident insurance issues, click here…

The Robinette Legal Group, PLLC:  Experienced, compassionate help for the hurting.  Questions?  Call today 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

 

Tragic Collision in Terra Alta, WV Takes the Life of an Aurora Woman

An Aurora woman was killed in a head-on collision on Veterans Memorial Highway in Terra  Alta Thursday, August 14, 2014. State Police say the 34 year old woman was driving west on Route 7 in a curve east of Delano’s Furniture and west of Hopemont Hospital at about 2:30 p.m. Her vehicle was struck head-on by a truck that had veered left-of-center and crashed into her car.

According to a West Virginia State Police press release, charges are pending against driver of the pickup.

Read More…