LONDON - Drivers who drink only 25 ml of water an hour make twice as many mistakes as drivers who drink enough water while driving. And the number of mistakes made by dehydrated drivers is similar to the number for drivers who are tired or have drunk more than the permitted number of units of alcohol. This discovery was made recently by a team of researchers from Loughborough University (UK) and reported in The Telegraph.
The researchers carried out a series of tests with a driving simulator on 12 male drivers. The volunteers used the simulator on a day when they were properly hydrated by drinking 200 ml of water an hour. The tests were then repeated on a day when volunteers were insufficiently hydrated, drinking only 25 ml of water an hour. On the days when the participants were properly hydrated, they made an average of 47 driving mistakes. When they were insufficiently hydrated, the number of mistakes went up to 101. This figure is similar to that for drivers deprived of sleep or who are over the drink drive limit.
Ron Maughan, the leader of the study, said in the Telegraph: "There is no question that driving while incapable through drink or drugs increases the risk of accidents, but our findings highlight an unrecognised danger (dehydration) and suggest that drivers should be encouraged to make sure they're properly hydrated." The researchers found that mild dehydration can produce reductions in concentration and alertness, as well as headache, fatigue and negative changes in mood.