Saudi Arabia, July 25, 2017 – A study conducted in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has shown that over three times as many drivers drink coffee to help them stay alert behind the wheel than use energy drinks. The research, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Continental Tires as part of its Vison Zero safety initiative, reveals how drivers turn to different types of caffeinated drinks to help them maintain concentration, but warns of the dangers of relying on certain types of drink to enhance levels of alertness.
Of those questioned, just 15 percent turn to energy drinks for an energy boost, as opposed to 49 percent who choose coffee to help them stay alert. While the most popular drink overall was tea, far fewer – 35 percent – drink tea to benefit from any extra ‘kick’ it gives them. Just nine percent of respondents choose carbonated beverages to boost their levels of alertness, with this figure rising to 11 percent and 17 percent for drinkers of Karak Chai and hot chocolate respectively.
But with the increasing number of car accidents in Saudi Arabia that saw a rise to over half a million accidents in 2016, up by 2.8 percent compared to the previous year, recent efforts have been made by the Saudi government to improve urban mobility by investing in safe infrastructure. As motorists in the kingdom are urged to pay extra attention and be more attentive  while driving, Continental’s survey raises questions about how a driver’s choice of drink actually helps enhance their driving ability.
Speaking about the findings, Dr Dana Al-Hamwi, GCC-based Medical Doctor and certified Clinical Dietician, Founder of Dr Dana Diet Center (DDDC) in Dubai Healthcare City and a regular expert commentator on MBC and Dubai TV, commented: “Studies have shown that a cup of coffee or tea can be a ‘quick-fix’ for tired drivers. But caffeinated drinks shouldn’t be relied upon to maintain focus and concentration when on the roads.”
“Caffeine has no stimulation effect on the brain. Indeed, excessive caffeine consumption can cause symptoms such as irritability, nervousness, irregular or rapid heartbeat, muscle twitching and slurred speech. At the same time, drinks that are high in sugar content can actually lead to fatigue,” Dr Al-Hamwi continued.
Continental’s survey asked 1,001 respondents form Saudi Arabia about their habitual drink intake as well as what they felt the impact to be of not being able to consume their preferred drink. Of these, 21 percent claimed not having their drink of choice left them tired and unfocused, with 29 percent acknowledging they would expect to suffer headaches.
Commenting on the findings, Jose Luis de la Fuente, Managing Director of Continental Middle East, said: “There are many different elements that can play a role in road accidents, and the human factor is just one of these. This is why driver education is a key element of Continental’s Vision Zero initiative. In undertaking this study, we wanted to better understand how the effect of consuming different drinks influences drivers in Saudi Arabia.”
As a frontrunner in automotive technological advancements and road safety, Continental is a dedicated advocate of greater safety on the roads - the company’s global Vision Zero initiative aims to totally eradicate road accidents and achieve Zero fatalities, Zero injuries and Zero accidents on the roads. The survey was commissioned by Continental as part of its approach to delivering Vision Zero through enhancing drivers’ knowledge, attitude and awareness.
Based on the understanding that caffeinated drinks provide a limited boost to maintaining alertness, Continental Middle East and Dr Al-Hamwi have come up with the following top-ten health and nutrition tips to help provide drivers with a safer driving experience: