Many people start their day with coffee and keep drinking it until they finish work. Caffeine is a very popular stimulant that millions of people consume on a daily basis in the United States. It is quite common for people to consume caffeine before driving or while at the wheel. Most gas stations and rest stops that offer amenities sell coffee and other caffeinated beverages, possibly even caffeine pills, to help drivers stay awake.
When used occasionally, caffeine can help individuals stave off fatigue and stay awake long enough to reach their destination safely. Unfortunately, some people misuse caffeine, a choice which could potentially increase their chance of causing a crash. These are the two main ways in which caffeine consumption could contribute to someone’s overall crash risk.
When they use caffeine to sober up
One of the most common misconceptions about caffeine is that it reverses alcohol intoxication or speeds up the metabolization of alcohol. However, those are not beliefs based on medical science. Caffeine has no impact on the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and does not actually lead to someone becoming sober faster. If anything, the addition of caffeine to someone’s body when they have already consumed too much alcohol might lead to a negative reaction, such as heart palpitations.
When they have gone too long without sleep
Caffeine can make someone more alert and help them stay awake, but it does not actually reverse the impact of fatigue on the human body. Exhaustion affects how the brain functions. People who have gone almost a full day without sleep have a hard time making good choices and have longer reaction times. Caffeine does not actually diminish the impact of fatigue on the brain and may actually worsen symptoms by making someone overstimulated and jittery.
As a final note, those who are extremely tired could also potentially ingest a dangerous amount of caffeine in an attempt to stay awake, which could lead to medical events while they drive. Realizing that people may use caffeine as a way to cover unsafe choices, like driving while drunk or exhausted, may help those dealing with the aftermath of a car crash and hoping to pursue compensation for their expenses from a driver whose poor choices led to their harm.