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Caffeine Beats Music for Driving Alertness

Caffeine Beats Music for Driving Alertness

For many, drowsiness or fatigue when behind the wheel is combated by drinking caffeinated beverages or by listening to music.

New research evaluates which method, if either, can successfully combat driver fatigue.

Human factors/ergonomics researchers ShiXu Liu, Shengji Yao, Ph.D., and Allan Spence, Ph.D., designed a simulated driving study that measured driver fatigue levels against the use of caffeine, music, or no stimulant. Their study is to be presented at the HFES 2014 Annual Meeting in Chicago in October.

Twenty participants completed three 120-minute driving sessions over a three-day span at the same time each day, then scored their fatigue levels on a questionnaire.

Results indicated that drivers who used either caffeine or music as a stimulant felt significantly less tired than those who did not.

The researchers noted, however, that those who drank a caffeinated beverage to stay awake performed their driving tasks much better than those who listened to music or those in the control group.

“Even though both caffeine and music keep drivers feeling more awake, caffeine also helps them maintain good driving performance,” said Liu.

“Music, on the other hand, can distract drivers, which may explain why driving performance is not significantly improved when it is used as a fatigue countermeasure.”

Source: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

Person drinking coffee while driving photo by shutterstock.

Caffeine Beats Music for Driving Alertness

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Caffeine Beats Music for Driving Alertness. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2018, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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