FILL IT UP: Lloyd George loves his coffee.
FILL IT UP: Lloyd George loves his coffee.

Coffee helps you stay alive

COFFEE has long been used for its ability to keep us awake and alert, but it can also help truck drivers stay alive a new study has found.

For some drivers, like Lloyd George it's best served black, and it is only used for it's taste.

Researchers from the University of Sydney surveyed 530 long distance drivers who had crashed and 517 drivers who had not had a crash in the past 12 months.

What they found was 43% of drivers consumed substances containing caffeine, tea, coffee, caffeine tablets or energy drinks for the purpose of staying awake.

And drivers who did consume caffeine were 63% less likely to crash, compared to drivers who did not take caffeine.

Even though Mr George has started his day with a coffee or tea for the last 43 years he has been truck driving, he reckons it's not the black stuff that keeps him awake.

"I don't think it helps me stay awake, I drink it cause I like the taste."

Without milk or sugar it's definately the coffee he is tasting.

"I used to drink tea years ago, until the mid 70s when I was delivering meat to butchers shops around Sydney. If they weren't ready for me to unlaod, they would offer me a coffee."

Now the former ATA and Natroad Driver of the Year (2007) drinks about three a day while doing work for Crane Trans hauling various goods up to the gas fields from Brisbane.

The study led by Lisa Sharwood found the consumption of caffeinated substances can "significantly protect against crash risk for the long distance commercial driver".

It concluded that it was an important implication for the improvement of fatigue management strategies.

"In our study only 70% of drivers reported having stopped for a nap when tired, and, although we did not probe in detail regarding impediments to nap taking, the numbers suggest that it is not a strategy considered as favourable as others for the management of fatigue," the report said.

"The varying extent to which activities such as taking a nap, drinking a cup of coffee, or going for a short walk contribute to subsequent vigilance behind the wheel are not well understood.

"That is why they are therefore recommended for further study

"Our findings suggest that the consumption of caffeinated stimulant substances is associated with a significantly reduced risk of involvement in a crash for long distance drivers in Australia."

Mr George's tips on a perfect coffee involve using only the best beans.

If it has to be instant he opts for Moccona Indulgance or getting Italians to make it.

But he reckons the best place to get a good coffee on the Warrego Hwy is at Blacksoil.

The lowdown on coffee

Caffine has been shown to increase alertness in shift workers and improve the capacity for task performance in shift workers.

But when used in excess it can also affect the quantity and quality of sleep.

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