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Business drivers: don’t wing it with energy drinks

13 October 2009

High mileage business drivers who use high energy drinks to keep them going have been warned by leading occupational driver risk companies, IAM Fleet and Drive & Survive, that there could be a hidden danger in relying on caffeine drinks which can lead to increased weariness behind the wheel.

The US National Safety Commission (NSC) has issued an alert for those driving under caffeine intoxication, similar to warnings associated with drinking alcohol and driving. Research has shown that just an hour after drinking a highly caffeinated and sugared drink, tired drivers can experience serious lapses in concentration and slower reaction times as the drink wears off.

Excessive caffeine consumption can cause similar symptoms to alcohol intoxication according to the American Food and Drink Administration (FDA) which has attributed symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, irregular or rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching and rambling speech to what it terms ‘caffeine intoxication’.

Seb Goldin, managing director of IAM Fleet, a Driving for Better Business campaign supporter, said: “Energy drinks are good as a quick fix, but they’re no substitute for regular breaks. Having a high-caffeine drink is a one-off hit - you can’t repeat it, as this type of drink does not produce the same effect in a couple of hours’ time.

“Tiredness affects reaction times and concentration and if you fall asleep at the wheel the results are nearly always fatal. The classic fatigue related crash usually involves a high speed impact with a roadside object or an oncoming vehicle - two of the least survivable crashes even in the most modern of cars.”

In order to beat fatigue on long drives IAM Fleet recommends that drivers stop every two hours for at least 20 minutes and consider stopping overnight on long-haul journeys.

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