Do Energy Drinks Contribute to Drunk Driving?


A study recently published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research strongly suggests that popular energy drinks when coupled with alcohol significantly contribute to people driving under the influence of alcohol

Researchers at the University of Maryland followed 1,000 college students over the course of six years. The study found that the more non-alcoholic energy drinks consumed by the participants, the more likely they were to drive drunk.

“[The] results shed light on the complexity of the relationship between [energy drink] consumption patterns and an important public health problem: drunk driving,” noted the authors of the study, led by public health researcher Amelia Arria of the University of Maryland.

Although the reason for the link is unclear since the energy drinks do not contain alcohol, researchers speculated that participants consumed energy drinks to counteract the sedative effects of alcohol and that, since participants felt “more awake,” they were more likely to continue to drink.

Researchers also speculated that college student participants consumed energy drinks to fight the hangover after a night of drinking.

Another possible link between energy drink consumption and drunk driving, according to the researchers, is that participants who are more likely to consume energy drinks are already more prone to drive drunk. Researchers noted that advertisements for energy drinks portray a more “exciting, active lifestyle with a proudly carefree and undaunted attitude of ‘living for the moment.’” The authors went on to say, “In that case, it would be plausible that individuals who identify with such a prototype might also be at risk for drunk driving because they tend to dismiss any potential for harm.”

The recent study confirms the results of previous studies conducted on the same topic.

If you enjoy mixing alcohol with energy drinks, regardless of why, be aware of a few things: you are more likely to over drink, you are probably drunker than you think you are, and you are more likely to mistakenly believe that you’re ok to drive home. 

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