Will caffeine keep you awake behind the wheel?

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2021 | Car Accidents |

Most people have been in the same situation at one time or another: They’re driving and they begin to get tired. If you’re behind the wheel when you start to feel drowsy or distracted, it’s important for you to pull over and take steps to wake up before you continue on. 

Caffeine is one remedy touted as a cure-all for sleep-deprived drivers, but does it really do that job?

The buzz about caffeine

Caffeine, and a caffeine buzz, can help you stay more alert behind the wheel, but not in all cases. In one study, it was determined that drivers who had gone 48 hours without sleep were better off on the roads if they had consumed four 200-mg servings of caffeine compared to those who had not. That doesn’t mean that they weren’t driving worse than they normally would, but it does mean that they were less likely to be involved in a collision than their un-caffeinated peers.

In a placebo group where drivers didn’t drink caffeine, they began to crash as early as 22 hours into the experiment. For those in the caffeinated group, it took until the 40th hour before they began to have collisions. 

That being said, caffeine does take time to kick in. It takes around 30 minutes for caffeine to start working in the body. So, in the 30 minutes or so that it takes for an energy drink or cup of coffee to reach their bloodstreams, drivers should pull over and even consider taking a nap. Then, once the caffeine and rest combine, they may be able to safely resume driving.

When you’re hit by a tired driver

Caffeine isn’t a cure-all method of staying awake. If a driver does continue on and dozes off, they could be held accountable for a car crash. If a fatigued driver caused your injuries, you have a right to expect compensation for your losses. 

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