We’ve all experienced marathon driving trips where we try to balance caffeine intake with restroom stops. You may need the coffee or Coke to stay awake, but you’re killing your drive time with all the bathroom breaks. Some drivers turn to non-fluid forms of caffeine or even herbal stimulants to stay awake behind the wheel without the nuisance of a full bladder. Others just refuse to drink anything on road trips and hope for the best. The problem with this practice is that, according to a new study out of the United Kingdom, driving while dehydrated is just as dangerous as driving while fatigued or even drunk.
Dehydrated Drivers Show Signs of Impairment in Study
A study conducted by researchers at Loughborough (England) University and published in the journal Physiology and Behaviour last spring revealed the surprising effects of even mild dehydration on drivers. While the group of study participants with normal levels of hydration committed an average of 47 errors on the driving simulator, the dehydrated group made 101 mistakes, more than doubling the rate of incidents. Common errors included:
- Lane drifting
- Late braking
- Touching or crossing lane lines or rumble strips
At highway speeds, these are the exact kinds of driving errors that can lead to tragic crashes. The performance of the dehydrated drivers on the test was comparable to drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent, the legal limit for drunk driving in Texas. The researchers cited effects of dehydration such as headache, lethargy, and tiredness as causes for the driving mistakes.
Drink Plenty of the Right Stuff to Stay Safe on the Road
Water should always be your go-to drink for staying hydrated, but the amount you need depends on how active you are and how hot it is. It is also important to drink throughout the day because once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Keep a couple of bottles of water in your car at all times and be sure to drink a good amount with meals. Regular bathroom breaks will also provide much-needed rest breaks and result in a safer trip.
Your Safety Is Not Always in Your Hands
While you might do all you can to keep yourself and your passengers safe, not everyone on the road is as conscientious as you. Driver error is the leading cause of highway fatalities, and alcohol, fatigue, and dehydration can be contributing factors. If you were injured by another driver’s error, you need experienced legal representation to help you recover what you deserve. With Wayne Wright, we don’t get paid unless we recover for you. Call now for more information at 800-237-3334.