Dehydrated Drivers As Bad On The Road As Drunk Drivers, Study Suggests

New research suggests that driving while dehydrated is equally as destructive as driving while drunk. Drivers who had consumed alcohol over the legal limit as well as drivers who were dehydrated made twice as many driving mistakes as those who were hydrated.

The Telegraph reports that not drinking enough water can cause drivers to make more mistakes, increasing their chances of a collision. The study found that drivers who were mildly dehydrated were twice as likely to make a driving mistake than their hydrated counterparts. This is the same as a person who has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent.

According to drunk driving laws in all states, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent is considered too high to drive.

"Legally, in all states you should not be operating a motor vehicle with a.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In other words, whether or not you consider yourself "drunk," the law considers you to be an offender if your BAC is above.08%."

Researchers do not want to diminish the dangers of driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. However, they want to shed light on a danger that many drivers may not be familiar with. Mild dehydration can lead to "negative changes in mood and reductions in concentration, alertness and short-term memory, as well as headache and fatigue." All of these symptoms can affect a driver's ability to maintain focus on the road, resulting in limited driving skills.

So how much water do you need to drink to stay alert on the road? The study suggests that drivers should drink around 6.8 ounces of water an hour to remain properly hydrated and alert.

The "dehydrated drivers" were given just 0.8 ounces of water each hour which resulted in driving skills equivalent to those who had a blood alcohol level of 0.8 percent and legally unable to drive. The situation was shown to be more severe when a vehicle was hot.

"The researchers also warned that driving in a hot car may lead to increased dehydration during a long journey, especially for those who do not drink to avoid stopping for a toilet break."

Therefore, in addition to not driving a vehicle while intoxicated, researchers say that proper hydration is necessary when on long journeys. Schedule time for bathroom breaks on long journeys and don't forgo fluids in order to reach your destination faster.

Does the new research into dehydrated driving surprise you? Did you know that not consuming enough water could make you dangerous on the road?

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan]