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Dehydration when driving as dangerous as Drink Driving

May 1, 2015

Research has found that motorists driving when they are dehydrated make twice as many mistakes and this is on par with the number of errors of someone driving under the influence of alcohol. The study found that having as few as five sips of water in an hour whilst driving is the equivalent of being over the drinking and driving limit. Even mild dehydration can have a real impact on driving and the accuracy of the motorist behind the wheel.

This new research, carried out by academics at Loughborough University found that drivers who had just 25ml of water an hour made double the mistakes of drivers who were fully hydrated. This figure of twice as many mistakes is what correlates with drink drivers and could be a real cause for concern.

glass of water

Proper hydration is probably not at the top of the lists of priorities when people get into their cars to drives but this study shows it can make a real difference. With the risk of making as many mistakes as those who are at the drink driving limit, hydration should be a real concern for people getting into their cars.

Dehydration poses many risks from impaired mental functioning to fluctuating moods and it can also reduce concentration and short-term memory. This in turn translates as a higher driver risk and the study, which was first published in the Physiology and Behaviour Journal carried out a wide range of tests on male drivers using a laboratory driving simulator.

The driver errors recorded when participants were dehydrated included everything from lane drifting to crossing the rumble strip and late braking. This research contributes to how many of the driver error based accidents are caused and shows how important it is to factor in hydration when driving amongst the many other necessities.

The researchers asserted that driver error accounts for 68% of all vehicle crashes and even mild dehydration could be behind some of these. This information is particularly important as the summer is coming up and it is important to be prepared if driving in a hot car and the way this effects water loss in your body. As it is already recommended drivers stop regularly for rest breaks during long journeys, the researchers also assert the importance of drinking as you go and not holding back on fluids simply to skip toilet breaks whilst on the road.

Whilst dehydration is hardly an offence in line with drink driving being aware of your hydration levels and keeping a drink to hand in the car at all times may help limit the risk you pose to yourself and other drivers on the road and in turn help reduce the number of accidents attributed to driver error.

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