Dying for a Drink - 21st April 2015

It was reported in the Telegraph that dehydration can seriously affect drivers’ concentration and will have an effect on their driving skills to a level similar to someone who is over the drink drive limit.

Research was carried out at Loughborough University by a professor of Sport and Exercise Nutrition with a group of male drivers who’s performance was monitored on a driving simulator. Professor Ron Maughan was reported as saying :

  • "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."

Interestingly the report says that during the research the rate of mistakes more than doubled for drivers with mild dehydration which is a very serious danger. When the test was conducted the drivers that were hydrated were given 200ml of water per hour, which is a small glass of water. This is considered hydrated and the dehydrated drivers were given 25ml per hour which is the same amount over 8 hours.   On this basis, I think many drivers would consider they have been in the situation of dehydration at some point, if not fairly often, and for professional drivers on the road for long periods of time it is likely that this occurs regularly.

It was also reported that dehydration can impair mental functioning, changes in mood, and reductions in concentration, alertness and short-term memory, this could have a serious impact on road safety.

For those driving for work, It is worth considering your journey planning carefully as we head towards summer, and hopefully the warmer weather, which will have a greater effect on the drivers dehydration and concentration levels.
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