Road safety continues to be a major issue in the UAE, with recent figures from the Ministry of Interior and National Transport Authority showing that a staggering 725 people lost their lives on the country’s roads in 2016.

Hot on the lips of Dubai’s residents is what’s been done about it? The answer is lots! Not only have we seen the recent introduction of revised traffic fines and car seat safety laws across the UAE but the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority have also highlighted that poor concentration, inattentiveness and tiredness also raises the likelihood of crashes.

A recent study that’s been conducted in the UAE by car tyre giant, Continental has looked into how drinking habits in the UAE can benefit drivers and whether coffee can actually help keep fatigue at bay. What it has highlighted is that almost three times as many drivers drink coffee to help them stay alert behind the wheel than those that use energy drinks. So does this survey raise the question about how a driver’s choice of drink actually helps enhance their driving ability? Well, many of us like a good old cuppa and there’s those of us that can’t resist a quick nip into Starbucks or Costa too but the research, conducted by YouGov and commissioned by Continental as part of its Vison Zero safety initiative, reveals how drivers turn to different types of caffeinated drinks to help them maintain concentration, but it also warns of certain dangers too of those who are relying on certain types of drinks to enhance their levels of alertness.

Of those questioned as part of the survey, just 16 percent turn to energy drinks for an energy boost, as opposed to 46 percent who choose coffee to help them stay alert. While the most popular drink overall was tea, far fewer – 39 percent – actually drink tea to benefit from any extra sort of ‘kick’ it gives them.

Just 13 percent of respondents choose carbonated beverages to boost their levels of alertness, with this figure rising to 17 percent and 24 percent for drinkers of hot chocolate and Karak Chai respectively.

Speaking about the findings, Dr Dana Al-Hamwi, UAE-based Medical Doctor and DHA-certified Clinical Dietician, Founder of Dr Dana Diet Centre (DDDC) in Dubai Healthcare City and a regular expert 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 1,002 UAE respondents 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, 27 percent claimed not having their drink of choice left them tired and unfocused, with 24 percent acknowledging it negatively impacted their levels of concentration.

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:

1) Drink enough water to boost the electrical energy in the brain for all body functions

2) Avoid snacks with high salt or sugar content

3) Eat regular meals and consume fruit and vegetables

4) Avoid fast food and sugary drinks

5) Avoid medications that cause drowsiness

6) Chew gum to help increase focus on the road and reduce tension

7) Smaller healthy snacks are better than big meals

8) Have healthy snacks including carrots, celery, grapes, cheese sticks and grilled chicken strips

9) Follow your body clock and stop for a break on long trips

10) Make sure to allow fresh air to circulate inside the car cabin

Good advice we say? Do you drink coffee to keep you more alert on the roads? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Car Seat Safety in the UAE

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