A study released today has shown that although caffeine only slightly reduces drowsiness, it can significantly reduce driving errors.
The study, undertaken by the University of South Australia in conjunction with the Australian Department of Defence, looked at effects of caffeine on driving performance.
The researchers found that drivers who chewed caffeinated gum when tired made fewer driving errors than drivers who didn’t have caffeine.
The analysis was conducted by Dr. Siobhan Banks, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of South Australia and UniSA Biosciences director Dr. Chris Della Vedova as part of a wider study on fatigue by several institutions from the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.
“We wanted to see test the efficacy of caffeine as a countermeasure against drowsiness,” Dr. Banks said.
“The US military developed the caffeinated gum, which contains around 100mg per piece.”
“These findings will be really beneficial for people working in the military or emergency services.”
The subjects for the study were kept awake for 50 hours with half of them given two pieces of caffeine infused gum and the other half ordinary chewing gum.
The gum was given to them on four separate occasions during which the subjects were asked to perform ordinary driving procedures in a simulator.
They were then monitored by an infra-red sensor that calculated their blink velocity, and they were judged by their ability to keep in the lanes and adhere to the appropriate speed limit.
Dr. Alex Zelinsky, Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, supported Dr. Banks claims and said that while the study was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Defence, the study has proven to be quite useful for civilians as well.
“While the findings are relevant to Defence, they have significant implications for civilian application such as long-haul transport,” Dr. Zelinsky said.