A new study shows that sipping water while driving is one of your most important moves for safety. In the past on road trips I went to pee right before leaving and rationed liquids during my journey to avoid making frequent toilet stops.
Good research has now shown that cutting back on water while driving could be a very dangerous habit. The study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior showed that driving while dehydrated is just as dangerous as driving drunk.
In the study, researchers in the UK’s Loughborough University carried out simulated tests on drivers when they were both hydrated and dehydrated. The tests included a two-hour monotonous drive with bends, a hard shoulder, rumble strips, and slow-moving vehicles that needed to be passed. On one day, participants were given nearly a cup of fluid to drink per hour and on the dehydration day, they were given just a few sips of liquid per hour.
When participants were hydrated, there were 47 driving incidents, but when they were dehydrated, that number was more than doubled at 101. The errors also increased during the two-hour period and were worse during the last leg of the drive. Those incidents included lane drifting, late braking, and touching or crossing the rumble strip or lane line.
But how is dehydration linked to poor driving? Lead researcher Ron Maughan, PhD, states that our brain function becomes conserved when we’re dehydrated, which can then impact how well we drive.
That brain conservation can create a whole range of other issues and dehydration impacts our mental clarity, reaction time, focus, concentration, thinking, and even our mood.
The impact isn’t just felt when we’re driving, sitting at a computer or operating machinery, but it can cause you to experience the same symptoms.
Dehydration can also affect your blood volume, and can lead to headaches, lethargy, and an overall drowsy feeling — not ideal symptoms to experience while driving…or any other time.
Your muscle function can be impaired by dehydration too and you still need your muscles to be able to react quickly while driving.
Dehydration is typically classified as losing two percent of your body weight in water but you don’t need to be significantly dehydrated to experience the negative side effects.
Unfortunately, there is disagreement as to how much liquid everyone should drink. Your urine should be light yellow. Dark orange, yellow or smelly urine indicate dehydration and you need more water to help your kidneys work efficiently.
If you want me to state an amount (which can vary depending upon the time of year and work rate, consider 6 x 16oz (500ml) glasses of water over the day as a good average (for persons 150lbs or 70kgs). If you are smaller or larger than average or it is hot and you are exercising then decrease or increase as appropriate.
P.S: Add a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in each glass to help alkalize your body.