Business drivers: don’t wing it with energy drinks

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High mileage business drivers who use “high energy” drinks to keep them going have been warned by leading occupational driver risk companies, IAM Fleet, 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”.

General Manager of IAM Fleet, Mike Kavanagh, 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.” Kavanagh said.

  • In order to beat fatigue on long drives IAM Fleet advise:
  • Businesses should carry out regular driver risk assessments using an appropriate tool
  • As a duty of care, businesses should ensure that their driving at work policies reflect the impact that fatigue can have on drivers
  • Stop every two hours for at least 20 minutes
  • Consider stopping overnight on long-haul journeys
  • Share the driving with someone else – don’t do it all yourself if you don’t have to
  • If you start to feel tired while driving, don’t rely on air con or an open window: find a safe place to stop and rest
  • Only set off on your journey when you are properly refreshed
  • Fatigue does not suddenly affect you – if you start to feel tired it is your responsibility to do something about it