Is it tea or coffee that keeps tiredness at bay for UAE drivers?

27 percent of drivers feel tired and unfocused

DUBAI 26 August 2017: A study conducted in the UAE has shown that almost three times as many drivers drink coffee to help them stay alert behind the wheel than use energy drinks.

The research, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Continental as part of its Vision Zero safety initiative, reveals how drivers turn to different types of caffeinated drinks to help them maintain concentration, but warns of the dangers of relying on certain types of drinks to enhance levels of alertness.

Of those questioned, just 16 per cent turn to energy drinks for an energy boost, as opposed to 46 per cent who choose coffee to help them stay alert. While the most popular drink overall was tea, far fewer – 39 per cent – drink tea to benefit from any extra ‘kick’ it gives them.

Just 13 per cent of respondents choose carbonated beverages to boost their levels of alertness, with this figure rising to 17 per cent and 24 per cent for drinkers of hot chocolate and Karak Chai respectively.

Road safety continues to be a major issue in the UAE, with recent figures from the Ministry of Interior and National Transport Authority showing that 725 people lost their lives on the country’s roads in 2016. With the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority recently highlighting that poor concentration, inattentiveness and tiredness raise the likelihood of crashes [2], Continental’s survey raises questions about how a driver’s choice of drink actually helps enhance their driving ability.

Speaking about the findings, Dr Dana Al Hamwi, UAE-based Medical Doctor and DHA-certified Clinical Dietician, Founder of Dr Dana Diet Centre (DDDC) in Dubai Healthcare City and a regular expert on MBC and Dubai TV, commented: “Studies have shown that a cup of coffee or tea can be a ‘quick-fix’ for tired drivers. But caffeinated drinks shouldn’t be relied upon to maintain focus and concentration when on the roads.”

“Caffeine has no stimulation effect on the brain. Indeed, excessive caffeine consumption can cause symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, irregular or rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching and slurred speech. At the same time, drinks that are high in sugar content can actually lead to fatigue,” Dr Al-Hamwi continued.

Continental’s survey asked 1,002 UAE respondents about their habitual drink intake as well as what they felt the impact to be of not being able to consume their preferred drink. Of these, 27 percent claimed not having their drink of choice left them tired and unfocused, with 24 percent acknowledging it negatively impacted their levels of concentration.

Commenting on the findings, Jose Luis de la Fuente, Managing Director of Continental Middle East, said: “There are many different elements that can play a role in road accidents, and the human factor is just one of these. This is why driver education is a key element of Continental’s Vision Zero initiative. In undertaking this study, we wanted to better understand how the effect of consuming different drinks influences drivers in the UAE.”

As a frontrunner in automotive technological advancements and road safety, Continental is a dedicated advocate of greater safety on the roads – the company’s global Vision Zero initiative aims to totally eradicate road accidents and achieve Zero fatalities, Zero injuries and Zero accidents on the roads. The survey was commissioned by Continental as part of its approach to delivering Vision Zero through enhancing drivers’ knowledge, attitude and awareness.

Based on the understanding that caffeinated drinks provide a limited boost to maintaining alertness, Continental Middle East and Dr Al-Hamwi have come up with the following top-ten health and nutrition tips to help provide drivers with a safer driving experience:

1) Drink enough water to boost the electrical energy in the brain for all body functions
2) Avoid snacks with high salt or sugar content
3) Eat regular meals and consume fruit and vegetables
4) Avoid fast food and sugary drinks
5) Avoid medications that cause drowsiness
6) Chew gum to help increase focus on the road and reduce tension
7) Smaller healthy snacks are better than big meals
8) Have healthy snacks including carrots, celery, grapes, cheese sticks and grilled chicken strips
9) Follow your body clock and stop for a break on long trips
10) Make sure to allow fresh air to circulate inside the car cabin

By Sheena Amos

Dubai Gazette