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Caffeine misuse amplifies 2 significant traffic safety concerns

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Car Accidents

Drivers in Oklahoma need to keep their focus on safety or they’ll run a greater-than-usual risk of getting into a crash. It only takes a few seconds of distraction or a couple of questionable decisions at the wheel for someone to cause tens of thousands of dollars in property damage or leave someone with a lifelong injury.

Plenty of personal and social factors contribute to the overall collision risk that any one person grapples with. For example, caffeine may seem like the opposite of a traffic safety concern. On its own, caffeine is not an impairing substance that causes collisions. However, motorists who frequently consume caffeine may be at elevated collision risk because of one of the two safety issues below.

Caffeine does not resolve drowsiness or intoxication

Perhaps the biggest safety concern about caffeine consumption and driving safety is how people turn to caffeine as a solution both for fatigue and impairment. Someone who has had a couple of beers at a party might ask for a cup of coffee to help them sober up before they drive home. However, caffeine does not do anything to speed up the body’s metabolization of alcohol nor to diminish its effect on the body. It may simply mask the signs of impairment.

The same is true when people use caffeine to stay awake when they know they are too tired to drive. That caffeine may briefly increase someone’s energy levels, but they will face an even more dramatic slump in energy later. The caffeine also will not completely undo the cognitive deficits generated by sleep deprivation.

Caffeine can affect driving behaviors in some cases

People turn to caffeine to help themselves get work done and better pay attention to the task at hand. It is effective in small doses for increasing short-term focus and mental clarity. However, both over-consumption of caffeine and driving while the body processes and eliminates the caffeine could lead to someone having diminished decision-making ability at the wheel.

Those overstimulated by too much caffeine may become jittery and irritable, overreacting to minor issues in traffic. Those who are coming down from a caffeine rush may experience both a lack of mental clarity and slower decision-making. When used responsibly and in moderation, caffeine is healthy and even helpful. Still, it can increase someone’s risk of a crash in certain situations.

Recognizing and avoiding personal choices that increase the possibility of a car wreck can help people stay safer on the road. Understanding the interplay between certain influences and crash risk can also inspire accident victims to seek justice when others’ choices cause them harm.

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