A new U.K. study shows that driving errors increased with dehydrated drivers. In fact, the data shows these errors doubled with problems revealing reduced concentration, alertness and judgment.
The study, conducted by Loughborough University in the U.K. and the European Hydration Institute, found that these errors occur when insufficient hydrating liquids are not consumed before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Science has known for a long time that proper hydration is absolutely critical for healthy brain and body functions. Being dehydrated can affect your health in many ways, including headaches, loss of energy, fatigue, irritability, judgment, and impairment of short-term memory. It can even lead to organ failure and death.
An unrecognized risk: Study reveals that driving dehydrated can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Two groups participated in the study and were told how much or how little to drink the day before their driving was going to be tested. On the actual testing day, some participants were given approximately 7 ounces of water per hour, while others were given less than 1 ounce per hour.
The two-hour driving test was split into four 30-minute sections. Both groups made more and more driving errors as the test progressed, such as drifting, car wheels crossing the rumble strip or lane line, and late braking. However, the dehydrated group’s errors were consistently higher than in the hydrated group’s — 101 compared to 47, respectively.
Those that were dehydrated complained more of thirst, a dry throat, hunger, concentration and alertness.
One of the most astonishing results were that the dehydrate group’s driving performance was comparable to driving sleep deprived or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%, the legal driving limit in most U.S. states.
How to prevent dehydration
Remember, water composes about 60 percent of our body composition. According to the National Academy of Medicine, women need approximately 9 cups of hydrating liquids per day and men need 13 cups. These include water, juice, milk soup, healthful smoothies, coffee and tea.
There are other ways to help your body stay hydrated: eat hydrating veggies and fruits such as cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, carrots, apples, strawberries, watermelon, grapes, and pineapple.
Also, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Once you feel thirsty, dehydration is imminent or has already started.
I always drive with a bottle of water and take frequent sips. Some don’t like to drink water and drive on a long trip because they don’t want to have to stop for too many bathroom breaks. Please take the time.
A person can get dehydrated any time of the year, without knowing it, but it is especially true during the hot summer months. Please drink enough water and keep yourself healthy all the time and also when driving. Do your part to make it safe out there!
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