The dangers of driving while dehydrated

Driving while dehydrated has the potential to be as dangerous as drink-driving, according to a study from Loughborough University. The study, which was conducted over the course of two days, had a group of male volunteers perform various driving simulations while provided 200 millilitres of fluid to drink every hour on the first day, but only 25 millilitres of fluid every hour the second day. During the simulations, the researchers counted the number of driving incidents such as braking late, drifting into the other lane and touching the rumble strip.

The study revealed that the drivers who were properly hydrated were responsible for an average of 47 driving incidents. The same drivers, performing the same simulation, were responsible for an average of 101 driving incidents while dehydrated. This level of error is comparable to an individual with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 per cent. An explanation for the steep increase of driving incidents could be attributed to the effects of dehydration on cognitive abilities, mood, memory, concentration and alertness.

The research conducted by Loughborough University suggests that a significant portion of accidents could be attributed to driving while dehydrated. Therefore, before you set out for an extended drive (more than an hour), be sure to follow these tips:

  • Bring an adequate amount of fluids to stay hydrated throughout the trip. For each hour spent in the car, you need to drink one glass of rehydrating fluids. Avoid an excessive amount of caffeinated drinks, which can contribute to your dehydration.
  • Refrain from driving in a hot vehicle, which can accelerate dehydration.
  • Take frequent driving breaks during long trips to let your body rest and rehydrate.

It does not take much—an hour without any fluids—to harm a driver’s focus and reflexes. However, this loss of skill is easily preventable. If you plan to take an extended drive, bring something hydrating to drink.