Most of us wouldn’t dream of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs – but when was the last time you felt thirsty when behind the wheel?
New research by Loughborough University has found that driving while dehydrated is just as dangerous as driving when you’re over the limit with alcohol.
The study found that drivers who consumed just 25ml of water an hour made more than double the mistakes of those who were hydrated – and about the same as those at the drink/drive limit.
Professor Ron Maughan, emeritus professor of sport and exercise nutrition, who led the study at Loughborough University, told the Daily Telegraph: “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.
“To put our results into perspective, the levels of driver errors we found are of a similar magnitude to those found in people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08%, the current UK legal driving limit. In other words drivers who are not properly hydrated make the same number of errors as people who are over the drink drive limit.”
During the tests, participants took part in a two-hour continuous drive on a dual carriageway driving simulator.
On one occasion they were provided with 200ml of water on the hour, and the next day they repeated the test with just 25ml of water every hour.
When the drivers had less water, they were found to make more mistakes than when they were properly hydrated.
These included lane drifting, late braking and crossing the rumble strip.