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Monday, 6 November, 2000, 02:16 GMT
High energy aid for dozy drivers
Driver
Driver fatigue is a major factor in road accidents
High energy drinks can help drivers to avoid falling asleep at the wheel, research has revealed.

Researchers have warned that, while there should be no substitute for rest, drinks like Red Bull can assist motorists in avoiding the effects of fatigue.

The study by the sleep research centre at Loughborough University was carried out amid concern over the high proportion of road deaths.


Drivers should plan their journeys and get off the road if they feel at all tired

Prof Jim Horne
Driver fatigue is thought to cause up to 10% of road accidents in the UK and be responsible for a quarter of fatalities in Scotland.

The new study, entitled Falling Asleep at the Wheel, is due to be unveiled at a conference in Warwickshire.

Researchers describe sleepiness as a silent killer and possibly a greater threat to life than alcohol.

The study found drivers were most at risk between the hours of 0200 and O600 and between 1400 and 1600 when the body's "natural clock" tends to wind down.

Sleepy driver
Drivers are urged to take a rest
The researchers warn that traditional strategies such as winding down the window and turning up the radio when feeling drowsy are pointless.

They say drivers should plot journeys with possible fatigue in mind and, in the event of feeling tired, should get off the road and drink one or two cans of a "functional energy drink".

The study found that one can of an energy drink could counteract "moderate levels of sleepiness" and two cans will amost eliminate the problem entirely.

The researchers carried out experiments on volunteers using the drink Red Bull.

'Tiredness can kill'

But it was stressed that drinks did not provide a substitute for rest.

Research centre director, Professor Jim Horne, said: "Drivers should plan their journeys and get off the road if they feel at all tired.

"Once stopped in a safe place they should drink a can of energy drink and, if possible, take a short nap for more than 15 minutes.

"If a short nap is impossible then a break away from the road for the same amount of time is advised."

According to the report, half of all sleep-related crashes involve young men between the ages of 18 and 30 - but the greatest risk is run by sales reps, students and journalists.

The survey was focused on motorists but there is also anecdotal evidence that high energy drinks - along with strong coffee - are used by workers on night shifts.

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08 Jun 00 | Scotland
Dozy motorists to 'drink and drive'
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