BSDA defends energy drinks from US study

The British Soft Drinks Association has defended energy drink brands following new research claiming that caffeinated energy drinks can reduce reaction times and the concentration of motorists.

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The response follows the release of a study by the US National Safety Commission which found that an hour after drinking a highly caffeinated and sugary drink, tired drivers suffered delays in their reaction times.

The Metro newspaper today (24 September) made the story its front page lead under the headline “Energy drinks risk to drivers”.

The industry body argues that caffeine levels found in most UK energy drinks are generally equal to, or less than the amount found in coffee on a per ounce basis.

BSDA media manager Liz Banstone says: “There are numerous well respected studies on caffeine consumption which demonstrate that moderate caffeine intake is safe for the general population.”

“As a responsible industry we would never advocate that energy drinks should be consumed instead of taking regular breaks when tired and behind the wheel.”

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has also responded to the US findings, adding that excessive caffeine consumption can have a similar effect on people as alcohol intoxication.

IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig, says: “Energy drinks are good as a quick fix, but they’re no substitute for regular breaks.”

“Having a high-caffeine drink is a one-off hit – you can’t repeat it, as this type of drink does not produce the same effect in a couple of hours’ time.”

However, the advice appears to be at odds with the Government’s Think! road safety campaign which states on its website: “If you start to feel sleepy, find a safe place to stop – not the hardshoulder. Drink two cups of coffee or a high-caffeine drink and have a rest for 10 to 15 minutes to allow time for the caffeine to kick in.”

The new study follows the launch of a new energy shot drink in the UK called Ubershot.

The energy shot market is seeing tremendous growth in the US with industry figures revealing it is already worth $500m.

Energy drinks such as Red Bull have targeted motorists in their marketing and are stocked on garage forecourts.

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