Keeping alert on the road with caffeine

A soda or coffee on the road can provide a stimulant to keep you alert and also create conditions that prompt you to stop every couple of hours to take a break. Both can help you be a safer driver.

Developing intelligence has a rundown on how to get the most out of caffeine in Caffeine: A User’s Guide to Getting Optimally Wired. It suggests you should 1) Consume in small, frequent amounts; 2) Play to your cognitive strengths while wired; 3) Play to caffeine’s strengths; and 4) Know when to stop – and when to start again.

Coffee and Caffeine’s Frequently Asked Questions notes that a 12 oz can of soda has about 40 mg of caffeine while a 7 oz cup of coffee will run about 100 mg. When this is combined with the findings cited in the User’s Guide, it appears that extended wakefulness is promoted by as little as half can of soda or quarter cup of coffee an hour.

Note that it can take more than a half hour for a caffeine dose to kick in and several hours to clear the system. It isn’t a quick cure for drowsiness!

Also note that driver inattention is cited as one of the three major risk factors in all types of crashes. See 2003 Nevada Traffic Crashes. For the speed kills contingent it should be noted that ‘failure to reduce speed’ is cited as a major factor in injury and property crashes. The failure to reduce speed is, again, driver inattention and not a matter of exceeding speed limits.

The lesson is that paying proper attention to your driving and being alert to the needs of the task at hand is important for safe travel. A bit of coffee or soda can help you maintain an edge.

Comments are closed.