Background: The purpose of this study was to examine if Red Bull® Energy Drink can counteract sleepiness and driving impairment during prolonged driving.
Methods: Twenty-four healthy volunteers participated in this double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study. After 2 h of highway driving in the STISIM driving simulator, subjects had a 15-min break and consumed Red Bull® Energy Drink (250 ml) or placebo (Red Bull® Energy Drink without the functional ingredients: caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, B vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, B12), and inositol) before driving for two additional hours. A third condition comprised 4 h of uninterrupted driving. Primary parameter was the standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), i.e., the weaving of the car. Secondary parameters included SD speed, subjective driving quality, sleepiness, and mental effort to perform the test.
Results: No significant differences were observed during the first 2 h of driving. Red Bull® Energy Drink significantly improved driving relative to placebo: SDLP was significantly reduced during the 3rd (p < 0.046) and 4th hour of driving (p < 0.011). Red Bull® Energy Drink significantly reduced the standard deviation of speed (p < 0.004), improved subjective driving quality (p < 0.0001), and reduced mental effort to perform the test (p < 0.024) during the 3rd hour of driving. Subjective sleepiness was significantly decreased during both the 3rd and 4th hour of driving after Red Bull® Energy Drink (p < 0.001 and p < 0.009, respectively). Relative to uninterrupted driving, Red Bull® Energy Drink significantly improved each parameter.
Conclusion: Red Bull® Energy Drink significantly improves driving performance and reduces driver sleepiness during prolonged highway driving.