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09.04.2012


Red Bull breaks highway hypnosis

You've been driving for a while. Your attention isn't as focused as it could be and you're not always keeping to your lane but you've still got a couple of hours to go. A can of Red Bull can help in situations like these, discovered Dutch psychologists.

During long journeys the phenomenon researchers call highway hypnosis can crop up: the monotony of motorway driving, the boring landscape, the vibrations and drone can make you sleepy and cause you to drift off. It's also the sensation that inspired Kraftwerk's hit Autobahn. Worldwide it's responsible for thousands of traffic accidents each year.

In 2011 psychologists at the University of Utrecht published the results of a study in which 12 male and 12 female subjects aged 21-35 participated. All of them had a driving licence and drove over 5000 km per year.

The researchers put the subjects in a driving simulator for two hours, then gave them a break and put them back in the simulator for another two hours. The experimental group drank a can containing 250 ml Red Bull in the break, and the control group drank were given a placebo with an identically formulated taste. Another control group drove for four hours non-stop.

The driving of the subjects after they had been given the energy drink was as good as it was when they had just started. Their ability to keep driving straight [in technical language, standard deviation of lateral position or SDLP] was twenty percent better and they kept to a more constant speed. The subjects also felt less sleepy after drinking Red Bull.


Red Bull breaks highway hypnosis


Red Bull breaks highway hypnosis


Red Bull breaks highway hypnosis


The study was funded by Red Bull. [redbull.com]

Source:
Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2011 Apr;214(3):737-45.

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