Drivers who are dehydrated make as many mistakes as those under the influence of alcohol, new research suggests.
Scientists from Loughborough University have examined the effect that not drinking enough water has on motorists and found that people who drank as little as 25ml an hour were making around double the number of errors as those who were properly hydrated.
The study was the first of its kind and found that even mild dehydration can adversely affect concentration and alertness.
When drivers were put through a laboratory simulation, those who had been given the recommended amount of 200ml an hour made an average of 47 mistakes.
By contrast the group who had been restricted to just a couple of sips typically made more than 100 errors.
Prof Ron Maughan told the Telegraph: “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.”
A few years ago a 72-year-old man admitted careless driving, claiming that he had become dehydrated after playing bagpipes at a summer garden party. Driving straight home afterwards, the pensioner crashed into another car, injuring two men.
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