Caffeine is arguably the most popular drug in the United States. Most people don’t even think of caffeine as a drug, despite being well aware of the physiological impact that the compound has on the human body. Caffeine affects both the brain and body, and it can also cause fatal overdoses.
Those who regularly ingest caffeine before driving could potentially cause a crash that directly relates to the way in which they consume caffeine. Drivers who are aware of the risks associated with caffeine and other popular substances can make better safety choices and can help other people overcome the misconceptions that put everyone at risk.
Caffeine use can increase crash risk
Some research has indicated that those who use caffeine heavily may be at a slightly elevated risk of a crash when compared with those who do not use caffeine at all. A review of crash rates among semi-truck drivers who self-reported caffeine intake found that those with the highest caffeine use often had a higher likelihood of having experienced a crash in the last three years.
Accumulated fatigue might be one of the factors contributing to that elevated risk, as those who have not had adequate sleep may experience diminished decision-making skill, increased reaction times and of course, difficulty staying awake while driving. There was also a correlation between poor diet, bad sleep and excessive caffeine consumption that could influence someone’s risk.
Caffeine does not sober people back up after drinking
The other very concerning way that caffeine affects safety on the road is how people rely on caffeine to offset the negative impacts of alcohol. However, there is no scientific evidence backing the belief that drinking caffeine while under the influence of alcohol diminishes impairment. In fact, for some people, adding caffeine to the mix when they are already under the influence of alcohol can further diminish their driving ability and increase their risk of causing a wreck.
While caffeine can help people improve their performance in the short term and can stave off some of the consequences of fatigue, it is neither a cure for exhaustion nor a solution for chemical intoxication. Learning more about common behaviors that contribute to crash risk might help some people reduce their risk on the road.