Not drinking enough water can have the same impact on driving as being over the drink-drive limit, new research has discovered. The study at Loughborough University found that dehydrated motorists are prone to making double the number of mistakes when behind the wheel than those who had drunk greater amounts of water, reports The Telegraph.
Simply being mildly dehydrated is enough to lower drivers’ level of concentration, with those who consume just 25ml of water per hour chalking up twice the number of motoring errors – the same rate as those on the UK drink drive limit.
Talking to The Telegraph, Professor Ron Maughan who led the study said: "We all deplore drink driving, but we don't usually think about the effects of other things that affect our driving skills, and one of those is not drinking and dehydration.
"There is no question that driving while incapable through drink or drugs increases the risk of accidents, but our findings highlight an unrecognised danger and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to make sure they are properly hydrated."
Our findings highlight an unrecognised danger and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to make sure they are properly hydrated.
The factors contributing to poorer driving standards result from the reduced concentration and alertness, and impaired mental functioning that result from dehydration, with short term memory also hindered by not drinking enough water.
The study saw male drivers using a lab-based driving simulator over two days. Participants performed three driving tasks per day, being properly hydrated on one day and dehydrated the other.
Mistakes made by drivers, including drifting out of their lane or braking too late, were noted with 47 incidents logged when participants were hydrated, which rose to 101 during the dehydration test.
With driver error believed to account for 68 per cent of crashes in the UK, the researchers have cited dehydration as a serious safety issue – especially when driving in a hot car or when drivers deliberately cut down the amount of fluids they drink to avoid toilet stops on longer trips.