Dave Carr discovers drinking and driving is not a bad idea…drinking water that is!

Fancy taking the car for a spin? Then you might consider a glass or two of water. A new study has found that taking the car on the road when dehydrated can be just as dangerous as driving on drink or drug.  The study showed that dehydrated participants made twice the number of errors as those who were hydrated.

The study was conducted at Loughborouagh University and tested a group of participants over two days, one day when hydrated and the other when dehydrated. On day one, the group drank 200 mls of water every hour and on the second day, only 25 mils. On both days all participants were put through a battery of tests involving a driving simulator.

Driving in the simulator, the participants faced a two-hour monotonous drive on a dual carriageway that involved bends, rumble strips and the overtaking of slow moving vehicles. All told a recreation of a not untypical drive.

The results found the drivers made more than double the number of mistakes when dehydrated. These mistakes included, lane drifting, late braking and inadvertently crossing rumble strips. On average the drivers made 101 mistakes when dehydrated and 47 when not. This is a simular number of mistakes as drivers who are over the blood alcohol limit.

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.”

The researchers go on to say “The level of dehydration induced in the present study was mild and could easily be reproduced by individuals with limited access to fluid over the course of a busy working day.” It’s worth noting that the experiment only tested for the effects of mild hydration (25 mls is the equivalent of five sips of water an hour) and in all probability a badly hydrated driver is likely to be even more prone to error.

Considering that driver error is the number one cause of road accident in Ireland, the question arises, if too little water is as dangerous as to much drink will Garda checkpoints soon include tests for dehydration?

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