A study by Loughborough University in 2015 found that driving when dehydrated is equivalent to drunk driving, according to the Express. The summer season allows people the opportunity to enjoy a stretch of good weather. However, drivers face many challenges, especially those travelling long distances. Some common complications include hay fever, glare, and overheating due to the high levels of temperature. Health professionals recommend drinking plenty of water to avoid these issues, but only 37% attempt to drink at least one liter of water. These numbers indicate a majority of drivers don’t know the reasons why water is essential for good health and the dangers of dehydrated driving.
Driver Fatigue At Higher Risk of Road Accidents
Perhaps you have been feeling tired or sluggish and put all the blame on the long-haul drive and lifting of cargo. Though these might be part of the problem, you might want to monitor your hydration level. Chances are you are fatigued because you are not well hydrated and driving under such a condition can be a danger to you and other motorists. Fatigue has some negative impacts on your driving experience. You take longer to react, become less efficient at processing information, and lack the motivation to perform tasks. Drivers also experience reduced alertness, poor physical coordination, interaction and communication with the surrounding seems like a tiresome task. In most cases, fatigued drivers get drowsy while still driving. We all know the results of drowsy driving range from severe to life-threatening casualties or loss of life.
All drivers should hydrate to avoid fatigue. But more emphasis is on long-distance truck drivers because they overlook the importance of hydration. It is worth noting that being part of eighteen-wheeler accidents can be fatal, stressful, disruptive, and expensive. In addition, they require more diligence because injuries sustained are always significant. During investigations, experts look at driver fatigue and negligence to determine who is accountable. Remember that even though you may have had enough rest before hitting the road, a lack of sufficient water in your body causes fatigue. As a result, you become distracted and make wrong decisions that increase the risk of a truck collision. Whether the incident was because of your negligence or not, consulting an 18 wheeler accident lawyer should be a top priority. You are likely to take liability if proven that you were driving under extreme levels of fatigue. With the help of a reputable attorney, however, you can fight for fair justice. Nonetheless, you should always re-hydrate your body to battle fatigue.
Loss of Driving Concentration
Water is essential for regulating body temperature, flushing out waste, protecting organs, and lubricating joints. During these processes, you lose water in the form of sweat and urine. So if you don’t replenish the lost water, you become dehydrated. Studies show that even the slightest loss of water in the body has a strong impact on cognitive function. Losing 1.5% of water causes impairment in tasks that require focus, motor coordination, and quick decision-making. Loss of concentration is the leading cause of the tragedies in areas that demand high levels of focus. Dehydrated truck drivers, for instance, have short-memory, and are less attentive to events happening in their current surroundings. They end up colliding with other trucks, and the results are always tragic.
Since driving requires a lot of attention, you must take in more fluids than the amount you are losing to prevent disorientation. If you must drive long distances during the hot weather, make sure you have plenty of water in the car and plan for multiple stops ahead of your trip so you don’t skip drinking water to avoid bathroom breaks. These tactics help you focus while driving hence avoid committing common driver errors, which account for 94% of car crashes, including eighteen-wheelers. Common errors committed by dehydrated drivers include late braking, missing traffic signs, speeding, improper use of mirrors on crowded routes and parking lots, and lane shifting.
Increased Risk of Distracted Driving
Every time we hear about distracted driving, we imagine the driver replying to a text message or talking on the phone. Using mobile phones behind the wheel, and turning the radio might be the primary cause of distracted driving, but your moods also dictate your performance on the road. Mood swings vary from one person to another, depending on factors like work, family, and health issues. However, dehydration is a cause of mood changes among a large population. And when it comes to driving, emotions can be destructive. It doesn’t matter if what you are feeling is negative or positive; each set of emotions, if not controlled, has long-term consequences. Moods altered due to lack of water are never pleasant. That is why drivers need to re-hydrate to promote positive feelings within themselves and in their work surroundings.
Research shows that 1.5% of water deprivation in the body contributes to irritability, anxiety, nervousness, and confusion. These negative feelings control thoughts and actions and can lead to wrong choices. For example, when a driver is upset, he is more likely to start road rage because of small issues like another driver cutting them off or driving slowly. Road rage is a serious traffic offense that could lead to high fines, jail term, and court appearances if caught. In some cases, such an action contributes to severe injuries or death. Drinking water is a simple act that could save you and thousands of motorists from preventable accidents. Re-hydrating your body brings a balance of emotions, increases alertness, and the ability to make wise decisions to ensure road safety.
Heat Stroke and Truck Accidents
Besides altering moods, driving under the hot sun, and not taking in the required amount of water makes your body overheat. The heat in your car causes you to sweat, thus increasing dehydration levels. Dehydrating causes cardiovascular strain, which can cause health disorders because the heart is working hard to pump blood to different organs. Overheating puts delicate body organs and nerve cells in the brain and all over the body at risk. In an overheated state, you experience confusion, loss of consciousness, and memory impairment. These effects make you vulnerable to impaired driving, and you are likely to collide with other vehicles or shift off lane destroying property or injure pedestrians and motorists.
To avoid such incidents, carry water with you and sip after a few minutes. Hydration prevents your body from overheating, keeping your energy levels high. It keeps you rejuvenated and ready to take up more tasks. For most truck drivers, however, staying hydrated also means frequent stops, which might interfere with their schedule. The good news is that you can stay hydrated on long-distance trips without making multiple stops for bathroom breaks. You only need to drink 16-20 ounces of water 20 minutes before arriving at your destination. That way, you will have time for bathroom breaks every time you visit pick-up or delivery stations, reducing the need to stop along the highway. Also, avoid caffeinated drinks as they make your body lose water. Instead, opt for water-rich foods and fruits like cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries.
Chronic Low Back Pain
Drivers, even those who operate small and mid-sized vehicles, are prone to low back pain. While long hour drives, bad posture, and little to no exercise can lead to muscle pain, insufficient water in the body causes back pain. If you practice dehydrated driving behind an eighteen-wheeler, it is time to consider drinking enough water. Lack of sufficient water in your body causes the discs between your spine to collapse, putting a lot of pressure on the sensitive nerves around the spinal column. Re-hydration helps the spine endure wear and tear and keeps the discs lubricated. Failure to re-hydrate makes the discs to shrink and collapse on the spinal column, putting force on sensitive nerves. The results are what you experience as low back pain.
Re-hydrating yourself as you drive along the highways will not only save you from road incidents, but also prevent chronic back pain. If you experience neck and leg pain, it could be a sign that your body is dehydrated. Therefore, make an effort to drink at least four to six cups a day. However, if you are driving during the summer season, consider drinking more to prevent dehydration. Your body loses water at a higher rate when the weather is hot. Keeping your body hydrated helps lubricate joints, not the ones attached to the spine only. Different joints in your body need water for lubrication. Lack of lubrication creates room for muscle spasms that can be painful and affect your overall well-being.
Thirst is always an indicator that your body needs water. But most of the time we feel thirsty after we have lost about 2% of water, making us vulnerable to dehydration effects. Avoid waiting until you feel the urge to drink water. By then, you will be feeling tired, nausea, dizzy, or even develop a severe headache. Additionally, do not skip hydrating for the sake of saving yourself from multiple bathroom visits. It doesn’t hurt to visit the bathroom ten times, as long as you stay safe on the road.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.