Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Driving and Coffee

Here's some interesting research from Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide (Australia) on the impact of coffee in keeping you awake when driving. It reminds me of my Physchology professor at RPI, just before the Thanksgiving holiday, he told us all to take coffee breaks as we drove home. Here's the research abstract:

Caffeine is a widely available mild stimulant thought to promote alertness. It has been suggested that the
consumption of caffeine could be promoted at designated ‘coffee stops’ by the side of the road in rest areas.
However, there is some concern that coffee stops might encourage driving when a driver should be resting.
Although such roadside initiatives have been operating in Australia and overseas for many years, there are few
quantitative evaluations examining the road safety benefits of such programs. Based on empirical research
evidence, there is some support for the provision of coffee at roadside rest stops to temporarily alleviate fatigue
when driving. However, the combination of drinking caffeine (approximately two cups of coffee) and napping (i.e.,
15 minutes) during a break appears to be more beneficial than caffeine alone. Therefore, to enhance the beneficial
effects of coffee stops, drivers feeling fatigued should be encouraged to take a 10 to 15 minute nap and to
consume coffee. However, even though caffeine has a beneficial effect in alleviating fatigue, these effects are only
temporary, lasting for about two hours. Consequently, caffeine alone should not be promoted as a substitute for

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