Over the last decade, energy drink use has become more popular. While safe in moderation, energy drinks can pose a danger when mixed with alcohol. While you may think about the adverse effects of caffeine, you may not know that energy drinks may increase the risk of drunk driving.
According to Arstechnica, research shows that there is a link between drunk driving reports and energy drink use. Some of these reports involved no alcohol at all.
Caffeine masks alcohol’s effects
Unlike alcohol, caffeine is a stimulant. When you drink an energy drink, your dopamine increases and you can feel like you are alert, awake and completely in control of your body. For some drivers, this creates a false sense of sobriety. You may not recognize how drunk you are because of how the energy drink makes you feel. This could lead to more drinking or it could lead to risky behavior because you do not recognize the effects of alcohol.
Despite the caffeine masking the effects of alcohol, you still have the same slowed reaction time that you would have if you only drank alcohol.
Caffeine may encourage risky behavior
One part of the study concludes that those prone to drink energy drinks and to consume them with or after an alcoholic drink may be more likely to engage in risky behavior. Energy drink manufacturers market towards those who want to live a more active, exciting lifestyle. This demographic may be more likely to dismiss the risks associated with drunk driving. Of students who drink energy drinks, over half admitted that they mix energy drinks with alcohol or consume both at the same time.