UAE drivers' favourite drinks to stay alert – and top nutrition tips for safer driving

Coffee was top of a new survey's findings, but should you rely on drinks to maintain your concentration?

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Are you in thrall to your morning dose of caffeine before setting off on your daily commute? Well, you’re certainly not alone, according to a new survey of UAE drivers commissioned by tyre brand Continental.

A substantial 46 per cent of respondents to the YouGov study said they drink coffee to stay alert while on the road, while 39 per cent said they turn to tea for similar effects. A relatively sparse 16 per cent relied on energy drinks, which proved less popular than karak chai (24 per cent) and hot chocolate (17 per cent).

Of those surveyed, 24 per cent thought that not being able to consume their drink of choice negatively affected their concentration levels.

New traffic laws in the UAE have been implemented this year to help curb accidents. But the survey has raised some additional road-safety issues, with one UAE-based doctor suggesting that we shouldn't rely on our favourite drinks to maintain our driving standards.

“Studies have shown that a cup of coffee or tea can be a ‘quick fix’ for tired drivers,” Dr Dana Al-Hamwi says. “But caffeinated drinks shouldn’t be relied upon to maintain focus and concentration when on the roads.

Illustration by Ramon Penas.
Illustration by Ramon Penas.

“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.”

In response to the findings, Al-Hamwi and Continental have compiled their top 10 health and nutrition tips for safer driving in the UAE:

  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 medication that causes 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