Alcohol and energy drinks are college staples. A lot of college students rely on energy drinks to help them get through classes. While caffeine consumption may have health effects on their own, there is also reason to believe that caffeine and energy drinks may lead to higher rates of drunk driving in students. While the study does not answer why students are likely to drive drunk, it does produce theories as to why drunk driving and caffeine may have a link.
Ars Technica describes a study that shows a link between energy drinks and drunk driving. The study followed 1,000 students for six years and showed a connection between energy drinks and the drunk driving frequency.
Authors of the study have a couple of theories as to why caffeinated drinks can increase drunk driving rates. One of these factors is simply psychosocial. The theory is that people who are prone to drinking energy drinks may have a carefree attitude. Those who live for the moment may be more likely to take risks. Drunk driving can be one of these risks.
In addition, there is a concept known as wide-awake drunk. When you mix alcohol and caffeine, you may not feel as though you are as drunk as you are. Despite feeling wide awake and full of energy, you still lack the coordination of a sober person. When drunk, however, you may not recognize the dangers of driving or underestimate how intoxicated you are. This can lead to poor decisions and impulsive drunk driving. In the study, a quarter of the students reported that they drove drunk, whereas over half of the students reported drinking energy drinks.