Energy drinks don’t have to be combined with alcohol to increase the risk of drunk driving, according to a new study.
Researchers had already found that frequent mixing of alcohol with energy drinks contributed to drunk driving, but they didn’t expect to find that “consuming energy drinks without alcohol contributed additional risk for drunk driving, regardless of alcohol drinking patterns,” said a Research Society on Alcoholism news release.
The report called this finding “unexpected” and said it “suggests that mechanisms other than the promotion of heavy drinking by energy drinks are involved in promoting drunk driving.”
The researchers found that 57 percent of students consumed energy drinks; 9 percent drank them exclusively with alcohol, 16 percent drank them exclusively without alcohol, and 32 percent drank them both with and without alcohol, depending on the occasion.
“The authors encourage parents, clinicians, and college administrators to regard any style of energy drink consumption, whether with or without alcohol, as a warning sign that students might be at high risk for alcohol-related consequences such as drunk driving,” the release said.