Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The traffic police have warned drivers against using energy drinks to fight fatigue. Assistant Superintendent of Police, Faridah Nampiima, the traffic police spokesperson, said they have noticed an increase in false belief that energy drinks help drivers to deal with fatigue on roads.
Nampiima said some crashes are happening on roads because drivers who feel tired do not take the required rest, but choose to buy energy drinks in the false belief that they would help them to stay awake.
Police say in the process of fighting sleep using a mere drink, some drivers have ended up knocking other road users or overturning vehicles. Nampiima says once one is tired, he or she should just park the vehicle or get someone to chauffer them instead of risking their lives as well as the lives of other road users.
“Never drive when you are tired,” Nampiima said. “If you feel tired park the car. There is no energy drink that can fight sleep. Don’t test God. You sleep and sleep to the mortuary and then to the grave. We don’t want to lose people. If you are fatigued and tired, please park the car.”
Although all drivers are warned, but trucker and public transport drivers have been cited as some of the category that does not take required rest but resort to energy drinks. Bodaboda riders have also not be spared because some of them move with energy drinks or local gins (Waragi) in their jackets.
In March this year, the National Drug Authority (NDA) informed parliamentary committee on trade, industries and tourism that some energy drinks on the market contained alcoholic- content.
NDA said it found products such as Sabarara extra had a 10.3 percent alcohol content, Entare Sana had a 6 percent alcohol content, Power Bank had a 4.4 percent of alcohol content while Kituzi had a 1.1 percent alcohol content.
In July this year, Leigh Ann Anderson, a drug information specialist, wrote in the drug.com website, that energy drinks which are described as non-alcoholic beverages contain caffeine that is often mixed with stimulating supplements like herbals, dietary supplements and vitamins.
Police road crashes data shows 1,289 light omnibus were involved in road crashes in 2020 while in 2019 such vehicles that caused or got involved in crashes stood at 2,100. The heavy good omnibuses that were involved in crashes were 177 and 221 in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
The police figure further shows 508 and 505 heavy good vehicles were involved in road crashes in 2020 and 2019 respectively. But in the same period of two years, 213 fuel trucks and over 1,000 trailers and semi-trailers got involved in crashes.
Abdullahi Swalleh, the chairman Haulage Truckers Uganda, said some drivers have often using energy drinks in the belief that they help to contain fatigue. But he is not sure whether such drinks help drivers achieve the perceived functions since he has never used any of them.
“They believe energy drinks make them not to fall asleep and they are able to drive for long hours,” Swalleh said. “It depends on companies because some have restrictions that no driver should exceed four hours without sleep. Companies which do not have restrictions are the ones causing problems.”
Nampiima cites Bodabodas and taxi drivers as leading in causing or getting involved in both fatal and serious crashes. Road crashes claimed 4,159 people in 2021 while motorcyclists contributed more than 1,900 deaths.