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

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…

GM Ignition Switches — What Legal Rights do You Have?

Ignition Switches — GM had Knowledge of Defective Products for More Than 10 Years

In a memo released on Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by the House subcommittee charged with investigating General Motor’s handling of the ignition switch defects, it was brought to light that GM discussed two different fixes for these defective switches, but cancelled them both without taking action.

GM ignition defectsCongress is now investigating why, when GM knew there were problems with the ignition switches as far back as 2001, they did not immediately issue recalls. Instead, they waited until at least 12 deaths were definitely linked to these defective products before taking action. Congress is also investigating why the National Traffic Safety Administration didn’t investigate the situation with these cars in spite of receiving evidence of this potentially fatal problem.

The nature of the problem with these ignition switches is this: these ignition switches can turn off by themselves if weighed down or bumped. Having a key fob or another key on the key chain that holds the ignition key is reportedly enough to trigger the problem. When the ignition switches off, the engine stops and the airbags disable which can result in tragedy when a vehicle is in motion.

The recall includes the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Sky from the 2003-’11 model years.

Your Legal Rights If You have Been Injured As a Result of a Faulty Ignition Switch

Car accidents caused by mechanical or design failures can leave victims with serious personal injuries. All too often, they result in wrongful death. If you were involved in an accident which was the result of negligence on the part of an auto manufacturer, you have the right to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other losses.

Automotive components are often manufactured by corporations under subcontract to large automotive manufacturers. The primary contractor, GM for instance, is responsible for overseeing the crashworthiness and safety of the product but the manufacturer and subcontractors for smaller individual components may share liability for damages in the event of a failure that caused injury or death.

Investigating the cause of the failure and the responsibility for quality control requires knowledge of manufacturing laws and insurance policies that cover the manufacturing corporations.  This is a highly specialized area of law, so if you have been injured in a car accident caused by a defective auto part or system, such as these defective ignition switches, talk to an experienced auto defects injury lawyer as soon as possible. Time is an important factor during the initial investigation, and please keep in mind that West Virginia allows only two years to file a lawsuit after such injuries.

Toyota Fined 1.2 Billion for Deadly Auto Product Defects

Toyota was recently fined $1.2 billion for misleading regulators as well as the public about a deadly acceleration problem in its vehicles, and it remains to be seen whether the government will levy a similar penalty on GM. The $1.2 billion payment represents the largest criminal penalty imposed on a car company in U.S. history for hiding safety defects from the public in “blatant disregard” of the law. This is appropriate given the extent of the deception carried out by Toyota in this case.  Is General Motors next?

Those who have suffered harm due to a faulty ignition switch or due to any defective automobile should seek legal counsel. Consumers have rights and those rights must be protected.

If you have questions, Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Find Jeff Robinette on Google.

Related Articles:

Defects in Vehicle Design Cause Serious Injury and Death

GM Under Fire for Slow Response to Fatal Vehicle Flaw

Source: The Dominion Post: Congress: GM Failed Twice to Fix Ignition Switch Defect, Associated Press, March 31, 2014.

Whiteout Conditions Cause Multi-vehicle Accident on I-81 in West Virginia

One of the beauties of West Virginia is its mountains and high altitudes. It looks like “almost heaven” from the windows of our homes, but once you get out on the roads, it can seem quite the opposite when snow, ice, and foggy conditions make driving treacherous, often causing vehicle wrecks and injuries. We all have pressing obligations which make going out on the roads, no matter how bad the conditions, seem mandatory.

Whiteout causes multi-vehicle accident on I-81Driving hazards are increased exponentially, though, as the temperature drops below freezing and can make even the simplest commute extremely dangerous, causing multiple-car crashes.  A recent example of this was when a snowstorm in late March 2014 caused whiteout conditions in Berkeley County near Martinsburg, WV causing more than 40 vehicles to collide in two separate incidents on Interstate 81 near Falling Waters, West Virginia, killing two people and injuring seven others.

The two fatalities occurred on the northbound lane, and the seven people were injured in the accident on the southbound lane of I-81.  A total of 44 vehicles were involved in this traffic pileup, including several tractor-trailers, and 15 to 20 vehicles were significantly damaged. The injured were taken by helicopters to Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg. The vehicles were rerouted to Highway 11, but it was slow going due to the high number of vehicles and people making their morning commute on the interstate.

Challenges and risks unique to the season – which this year has extended much longer than expected — require heightened vigilance, and drivers must adjust their driving to meet the demands of the road.

How to File an Insurance Claim if You have Been Involved in a Multi-car Collision

In a multi-car pileup, fault may be harder to prove because of the multiple vehicles involved. Contact your insurance company right away and provide information about the effects of the accident on your vehicle and your health, and any information you gathered from other drivers at the accident scene. If you have any reason to believe you were injured and haven’t seen a doctor, go immediately.

Sometimes the adrenaline your body produced immediately after the accident can mask symptoms which can later cause you a great deal of pain, and early treatment can eliminate a lot of future medical problems and pain. Often, early intervention with physical therapy can eliminate a need for surgery later – so get a medical opinion right away. Follow all doctor’s orders, document everything, and keep records and receipts from all medical office visits, as well as receipts from all expenses related to the crash.

If you have been severely injured, it is important to your claim for you to keep personal notes about how these injuries are affecting you and your family on a daily basis. If your damages were small and you weren’t seriously injured, chances are you can settle your claim yourself.

If you believe your insurance adjuster has not treated you fairly or considered all the facts and expenses related to your claim, you may need the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Claims adjusters are trained to minimize claims, so to obtain your case’s full value, a strong advocate on your side can be your best asset.

Questions? Call today: 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

Find Jeff Robinette on Google.

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Source: WHSV.com: “2 Killed In I-81 Pileup During Whiteout in W.Va.” March 26, 2014.

What if a Police Officer Caused my Injury?

police state trooper cruiserWe all understand the need to call the sheriff, city police, or state police if we are involved in a serious accident on a motorcycle, or while driving a car, or truck.*  But, who do you call and what can you do if the collision was caused by a local police officer or WV state trooper?

Every year accidents and injury are caused by police officers while in the line of duty.  In a recent West Virginia auto collision, a motorcyclist was clipped by a police cruiser in pursuit of another motorist, causing substantial injury to the rider.

It was an unintended collision, and the policeman was just doing his job, but this injured biker now is suffering from injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and may be facing surgery and therapy in the future to gain a more full recovery after the accident.  This is all going to be very expensive.  Who is going to pay?

Can I sue a police officer, police department, state agency, or city for damages?

Even if the police officer was on-duty, the standard of care the officer must abide by is the same as any other citizen, except when the officer is in pursuit of another individual.  In the latter circumstance, the rules for the operation of his motor vehicle change to allow him to exceed posted speed limits and the like.  However, the officer is not permitted to disregard the safety of other motorists.

When a public employee causes a motor vehicle collision, there are special laws that govern the liability of the State and political subdivisions. Generally, state agencies such as the Department of Highways are immune from civil lawsuits except in certain circumstances. When a public agency or political subdivision can be sued, the claim is limited to a modest insurance coverage limit. When a police officer causes a collision, it must be determined whether the police department is insured under the State policy. So, an officer can be sued, but there will likely be a limit of insurance coverage available.

What type of damages can be recovered after a car or motorcycle accident?

Accident victims can be compensated for economic damages: actual dollar losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and lost future income earning ability. Pain, suffering, humiliation, loss of enjoyment of life, and grief over the loss of a loved one are some of the non-economic losses for which a person may receive compensation. Punitive damages are also awarded in rare cases which serve to punish a defendant for extreme negligence and serve to deter future similar conduct by that defendant and others (such as in a NC case where the police officer caused a collision due to road rage incident).

Recently another lawsuit was filed in WV wherein a man is suing the West Virginia State Police for injuries he sustained in a car accident caused by one of its state troopers.

A West Virginia State Trooper negligently struck the front left side of the plaintiff’s vehicle and caused him to veer off the road and strike an electric pole.  The plaintiff claims as a result of the defendant’s negligence and carelessness, he sustained damages and injuries, including broken ribs, a permanent back injury, medical expenses, loss of earning capacity and loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering.

In Indiana, top-tier personal injury attorney William Hurst has been involved in many cases where a police officer’s negligence caused a motor vehicle accident, killing or seriously injuring a client or client’s family member.  In his blog, he outlines the special difficulties in bringing suit against police officers such as partial “waivers” of the sovereign immunity to allow the State, Cities, etc. to be sued for personal injury when their employees caused injury but have imposed restrictions and limitations as who can be sued and what an injured party can recover.

West Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys

Because of the complexity involved in crashes directly involving police vehicles, it is imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney to find all applicable insurance coverage and have an advocate on your side to fight for your right to compensation for your injuries.

If you have questions about a West Virginia road incident, Attorney Jeff Robinette would be glad to answer your questions.  Call today:  304-594-1800 or after hours 304-216-6695.

* West Virginia accident law states the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any person or total property damage to an apparent extent of $1,000 or more shall immediately by the quickest means of communication, give notice of such crash to the local police department if such crash occurs within a municipality, otherwise to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office of the West Virginia State Police.

Should I Salvage my Vehicle after a WV Car Accident?

What is Spoilation of Evidence in a WV Car Accident Injury Claim?

Many people don’t know that they have an obligation to preserve evidence that caused their personal injury claim.  If you discard evidence (called “spoliation”), you may be prohibited from asserting part or even all of your injury claim.   In auto injury claims, you have a duty to preserve the evidence that is under your control or ownership.   So, you may need to keep a wrecked vehicle in the same condition if the vehicle malfunctioned in any way that may have caused a collision.   You may otherwise want to keep the vehicle in its unrepaired state until you have consulted with legal counsel, because once the vehicle is repaired or salvaged, you can’t go back and inspect the damages.   So, you should take lots of photos of your damaged vehicle at a minimum before sending the vehicle to salvage.Van Fire outside

Your insurance adjuster may be encouraging you to discard or salvage your vehicle before adequate pictures or inspections can be taken of the damage.  Keep in mind that the “little scuff” on the back bumper may actually be a huge dent in the metal bumper system behind the plastic bumper cover.   If you allow the vehicle to be salvaged and crushed, then you are stuck with these limitations in presenting your injury claim (source: https://www.tatelawoffices.com/).

What can an injured person do to make sure that they don’t destroy key evidence for their injury claim?

Meeting your duty to preserve evidence that you own or control can be confusing.  This is yet another reason to engage experienced legal counsel early in the process to safely navigate all the pitfalls that may compromise your insurance claim.

Morgantown Car Accident Injury Lawyers

If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone’s careless conduct it is important to act quickly to protect your claim. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.

Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.Collision care 3d

We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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Is There a Difference Between a Collision and an Accident in WV?

Collision CareOne of the classic ways that insurance adjusters begin the process of defeating your claim is to label the wrongful conduct of their own insured driver as an accident.   They will attempt to gain sympathy for their insured driver and make the collision sound like just a little mistake — an accident.   While it is true that many minor collisions occur every day and cause no personal injuries to anyone, it is not accurate to say that all collisions are “accidents”.

When a significant auto collision occurs, causing serious personal injuries, it is self-evident that the person who caused the collision violated the motor vehicle safety laws and is thus guilty of careless, negligent conduct.

It is important to never refer to the conduct of the at-fault driver, who caused your serious injuries, as a mere mistake, or the auto collision as an accident.  If the collision was truly an “accident,” then the law may not hold anyone responsible.  The law requires that legal liability be established on the basis of fault, referred to as negligence.

 WV Uniform Crash Report Replaces Uniform Accident Report

 For many decades, law enforcement officers used the “Uniform Accident Report” form to annotate information about the auto collision.   Notice the word “Accident” in the title of the form?    Insurance companies and defense lawyers loved it!   During trials, the defense lawyer, the police officer, and even the judge referred to the collision as an accident.   So, what’s a jury to think about your claim if it was caused by an accident?  Well, I can tell you from experience — not much.

Recently, however, the use of a revised auto collision report form was mandated in West Virginia.   The change was primarily brought about because a new form had to be created to be integrated with computer software.    Irrespective of the reasons to get a new form in the system, every state, county and city police force must use the revised form: “State of West Virginia Uniform Traffic Crash Report.”   Did you notice the word “Crash” in the title of the report?  You can bet the insurance adjuster and defense lawyer noticed it.

So now, even police officers must recognize that they are investigating car “crashes,” not mere “accidents.”    But, old ways are hard to break, and it will take constant reminders to adjusters and even judges to refrain from referring to the police report as an “accident” report.

 Morgantown WV Collision Injury Lawyers

If you or your loved one has been injured due to someone’s careless, negligent conduct it is important to act quickly to protect your claim. Mr. Robinette has handled hundreds of cases involving serious injury and wrongful death and can provide the insight you need right now.

Call Jeff Robinette today for a free evaluation of your case at 304-594-1800 or after hours, 304-216-6695.

We are glad to provide free books and information for WV accident victims: Collision Care: West Virginia Auto Collision Guide, and Righting the Wrong, West Virginia Serious Injury Guide:  304-594-1800.

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I-79 Crash Kills Two Teens in WV: A Message for Friends

seatbelt pictureTwo Upshur County teenagers are dead following an early Saturday morning accident on Interstate 79 in Harrison County on March 30, 2013.

Emergency officials say the two teens were thrown out of the car when the driver lost control and hit a guard rail.  The accident happened at about 4:00 a.m.  The car flipped several times after hitting the guardrail.  Speed may have been a factor.

The girl was in critical condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital at one point over the weekend, but Harrison County authorities say she died from her injuries.

The accident happened at Mile Marker 128, between the South Fairmont and Saltwell Road exits, of I-79.

A Message for the Friends of these Teens:

Could these lives have been saved if they had used seatbelts?  Why did this happen and how could it have been prevented?  Do you realize that 78% of all people ejected from vehicles suffer fatal injuries (die)?  This could have been you.

Wearing a seatbelt is not only a good idea, it is the law.  On Thursday, March 28, 2013, the West Virginia House of Delegates voted to make failure to buckle up a primary offense (you can get pulled over just for this) and will owe a $25 fine if caught not wearing your seatbelt.  This bill is now moving through the senate.  Up until now, not wearing a seatbelt has been a secondary offense.  Supporters of this landmark decision highlight the facts that in WV alone, seatbelt use could result in 14 lives being saved, 146 serious injuries avoided, and over 32 million dollars in medical costs saved every year, not to mention averting the inestimable suffering of the accident victims, their family, and friends which is always the result of these crashes.

Think about it!  Your parents are right about seatbelts.  Buckle up — because we love you.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions.

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Height of Cowardice: Deadly Hit and Run in Brooklyn

hasidic jewsA baby delivered after his parents were killed in a Brooklyn hit and run accident on Sunday, March 3, 2013 died early Monday morning.

Police were searching for the driver of a BMW and a passenger who fled on foot after slamming into a livery cab, killing the young pregnant woman and her husband.  The horrific crash happened in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn as the couple headed to a hospital when the mother believed that she might have been starting labor.

“This guy’s a coward and he should pay his price,” a community spokesman added that the community wants a homicide prosecution in the state of New York.  Strong words from the community:  “Law enforcement is going to find you.  Give yourself up before we find you.”

A young married couple, both aged 21, were looking forward to welcoming their first child into their tight-knit community of Orthodox Jews.  A year ago this community celebrated the marriage of this young couple, and yesterday over 1,000 had the sorrow of mourning their loss.

The engine of the livery car ended up in the backseat, where the mother, who was seven months pregnant, was sitting before she was ejected from the car.  Her body landed under a parked tractor-trailer, said witnesses who raced to the scene after the crash. The husband was pinned in the car, and emergency workers had to cut off the roof to get him out, witnesses said.

They both were pronounced dead at hospitals, and the medical examiner said they died of blunt-force trauma. Doctors had delivered the baby by cesarean section and lived until early Monday morning.

Neighbors and friends said the boy weighed only about 4 pounds. The livery cab driver was treated for minor injuries at the hospital and was later released. Both the driver of the BMW and a passenger fled and were being sought, police said.

Hit and Run Drivers Need to be Prosecuted to the Fullest Extent of the Law

Car accidents are sometimes understandable mistakes or are simply unavoidable. But as soon as drivers flee the scene in order to avoid responsibility, the accident becomes a crime. In cases like this one, families often file wrongful death lawsuits against hit-and-run drivers in addition to criminal charges.

We need to send a message to hit-and-run drivers which is:  you will be caught, and you will be prosecuted, so don’t make matters worse for yourself or anyone else involved.

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Injury Lawyers. Free books and downloads for WV accident victims — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families. We are glad to answer your questions about hit and run accidents.

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Source:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/04/williamsburg-hit-and-run-expecting-parents-baby_n_2805203.html?ncid=webmail1