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Caffeine isn’t a long-term fix for fatigued truckers

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Caffeine is the most popular drug in use in the United States – and it’s the loyal companion of many truckers. Endless cups of coffee, energy drinks and bottles of soda are a lot of trucker’s “go-to” remedy for the fatigue associated with long-haul trucking.

While it’s true that caffeine can offer truckers a temporary boost of energy, however, it’s not a sustainable solution for chronic fatigue or drowsiness. 

How does caffeine work?

Essentially, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that blocks the ability of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep, from doing its job. This increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which improve both alertness and concentration.

However, the effects of caffeine are very ephemeral. Initially – or when used irregularly – caffeine can be very effective in helping truckers stay awake and focused. However, anybody who uses caffeine regularly is probably aware that the short-term boost is fleeting. If a trucker wants to stay alert using caffeine, they need to continuously replenish their supply, but they will find that they get diminishing returns over time as their brains and bodies build up a tolerance to the drug. 

Eventually, a trucker has to rely on higher and higher doses to get the desired effect – if they can get it at all. This can result in excessive caffeine consumption that can lead to a “caffeine crash” that causes increased fatigue and drowsiness in between doses. It also jitteriness, a rapid heartbeat, anxiety and distractibility – none of which are good when someone is behind the wheel of a big rig.

If you’re involved in a crash with a large commercial vehicle, there may be no way to know how much of a role caffeine played in the equation – but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking more information and exploring your legal options for recovery.