Drowsy driving is the number one killer on the highway. It can be caused by several factors including overly large meals which reduce the driver's vigilance, as stated by the Assurance Prévention association in a study conducted last year. One year after its first results, the latter conducted a new experiment demonstrating that it is conversely possible to choose foods that promote alertness. Here are the ones.

Tingling eyes, heavy eyelids, difficulty concentrating, pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, repeated yawning, numbness ... Many road users underestimate the risks of fatigue and drowsiness at the wheel, however dangers are very real. In 2019, the Assurance Prévention association had unveiled the results of its “Eat well to drive better” study, the objective of which was to assess the impact of a driver's diet on his vigilance and his driving awareness. They are final: after a large meal, the braking distances increase considerably, vigilance drops and the risk of accident skyrockets.

In this period of going on vacation, Assurance Prévention reveals the results of the second part of this study, conducted on a driving simulator in collaboration with a cardiologist and nutritionist and an endocrinologist. Unlike the first part of the study, this step consisted in identifying the foods that promote alertness on the road. "The association has decided this year to go further to determine the foods to favor before getting behind the wheel and during the journey, in order to promote vigilance and thus secure the holiday route. It promises to be particularly accident-prone in this period of deconfinement, "she said.

The three criteria that promote vigilance at the wheel

“This year again, the vigilance of drivers was studied by observing the movement of the eyeballs and postures with an infrared box oriented towards the face. These behaviors were filmed and recorded on big data systems. We were thus able to measure the number of risky behaviors according to the type of meal, ”comments the cardiologist and nutritionist Frédéric Saldmann. To promote vigilance while driving, the ideal meal should therefore be:
- the lowest glycemic index possible to avoid the alternation of form strokes / fatigue strokes,
- foods that do not require a large digestive effort,
- and tastes that arouse: bitterness and acidity.

"In the first part of the study, the reaction time increased even with a meal at 499 Kcal. This year, the study shows that vigilance can be maintained after a meal of 501 Kcal. So it's not just the number of calories that counts, but also the quality of the food. There are meals that limit the effect of digestion on alertness while driving, or even reverse it slightly, "adds Dr. Frédéric Saldmann.
The ideal menu before driving

Concretely, the optimized menu includes the famous “starter-main-dessert” trio, but it's what makes up each dish that matters.

As a starter, for example, the cucumber allows gradual hydration and the radish brings bitterness which increases alertness.
As a main course, the study recommends fish (protein intake) with lentils, foods with a very low glycemic index. They also provide linear energy and avoid getting tired during digestion, with a little lemon to add acidity.
The dessert consists of a kiwi and a small square of 90% dark chocolate. The former provides acidity and vitamin C and the latter provides bitterness.

This meal also has the advantage of being well balanced (around 500 Kcal) and accessible to all.

Water, on the other hand, must remain the only drink consumed without limits: in the car, whether it is hot or cold, it is essential to drink regularly, keeping a bottle close at hand.

The association thus concludes on the fact that "the second part of the study reaffirms the essential role of food on alertness while driving. It has also made it possible to develop standard menus to promote concentration and help reduce the number of road accidents. "

However, it should not be forgotten that, in addition, the driver's behavior remains essential for driving safely. It is therefore essential to ensure that you get enough sleep the night before, to take 15-20 minute breaks every 2 hours (more frequently at night, a period more conducive to drowsiness) and if possible avoid the hours when the risk of drowsiness is greater (1 p.m. - 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. - 5 a.m.).