Why Driving Dehydrated in Texas May Be As Risky As Driving Drunk

young businessman wearing a dress shirt and tie drinking bottled water Driver impairment can be caused by many things, but the most common factors tend to be alcohol, drugs and fatigue. Being dehydrated is another less-considered problem that could impair drivers badly enough to create a significant crash risk.

This article explains more about the dangers of dehydration, including common causes and how being dehydrated can affect your ability to drive safely.

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How Getting Behind the Wheel While Dehydrated Affects Your Ability To Drive

A study conducted at a UK university revealed that, on average, individuals who drove while dehydrated made double the number of driving errors. The test involved two participant groups, a dehydrated group and a more hydrated group. The more hydrated group was given seven ounces of fluid to drink every hour. The dehydrated group, however, was given less than one ounce of fluid to drink every hour.

The test was two hours long and split into four 30-minute driving sessions. Both groups committed an increasing number of serious driving errors as the study progressed, including:

  • Reacting/braking slowly
  • Drifting about in traffic lanes
  • Crossing into other lanes or over rumble strips

Study results showed that the dehydrated group consistently made more frequent and serious errors than the better-hydrated group. More concerning is that the report showed the dehydrated group’s driving performance was similar to that of individuals driving while fatigued or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent. To put that in perspective, it is illegal to drive in the U.S. or the U.K. with a BAC of .08 percent.

What Could Cause Someone To Become Dehydrated?

Anyone can become dehydrated simply by losing more fluid than they drink. If your body does not have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions, it can cause impairment. Many people fail to drink enough fluids throughout the day. Some of the ways people may become dehydrated include:

Engaging in Physical Activity Without Hydrating

Dehydration is most known to be caused by heat, but excess activity can cause you to become dehydrated as well. For instance, if you fail to take in enough fluids before:

  • Working out
  • Doing an activity like hot yoga, tennis, jogging or dancing
  • Anytime you are doing anything that causes you to sweat excessively

Taking Certain Types of Prescription Medications

Many prescription medications can cause people to become dehydrated, such as:

  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Diuretics
  • Laxatives
  • Lithium

High Caffeine Intake

Too much caffeine can cause dehydration. While coffee and tea are often the big culprits when it comes to high caffeine intake, there are others. For instance, energy drinks, chocolate, espresso, guarana and even some supplements have high amounts of caffeine in them.

Alcohol and Being Hungover

People who have been drinking, even if they are “only hungover” and the initial buzz has worn off, could be dehydrated. This is because alcohol also increases the need to urinate.

How Can You Tell If You Are Dehydrated?

Many believe that thirst is the primary or only indicator of dehydration, but you may have other symptoms as well:

  • Urine output: A decrease in the frequency of urination or a darker urine color than normal. Ideally, urine should be pale yellow.
  • Mouth dryness: Experiencing a dry or sticky feeling in the mouth or throat.
  • Fatigue: A general sense of tiredness or weakness.
  • Skin condition: Skin may look dry or show diminished elasticity. Testing skin’s elasticity by pinching it can indicate hydration levels; if it does not quickly return to normal, dehydration might be present.
  • Headaches and dizziness: Dehydration can lead to headaches or feelings of dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness: This may occur, particularly when standing up abruptly.
  • Digestive issues: Dehydration can cause constipation due to insufficient water in the body.
  • Eye appearance: Eyes might look sunken or have dark circles under them.
  • Heart rate and breathing: In more extreme cases, dehydration can cause an accelerated heart rate and increased breathing.

It is crucial to understand that thirst might not be a reliable sign of needing water, especially in older individuals. The color of your urine is a more accurate gauge of hydration. Clear or light-colored urine usually means adequate hydration, while dark yellow or amber-colored urine often indicates dehydration.

How Can I Avoid Becoming Dehydrated While Driving?

Be sure to take in a sufficient amount of fluids per day. Although how much water or other fluids you need in a day may vary, the general recommended intake is about 15.5 cups of water per day for men and 11.5 cups of water per day for women.

Should you notice signs of dehydration while driving, you should get off the road and slowlyy consume fluids promptly. Wait until your symptoms disappear before getting back behind the wheel.

Water is the optimum choice for helping you to stay properly hydrated. However, sports drinks can be beneficial for replenishing electrolytes lost through significant sweating, such as during vigorous physical activity or in hot climates.

If you become severely dehydrated, causing you to experience intense thirst, confusion, fainting or a rapid heartbeat, you should seek immediate medical intervention.

Did an Impaired Driver Crash into Your Vehicle? Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Help

At Anderson & Cummings, we are dedicated to helping victims injured by the negligence of others. We work diligently to recover the maximum possible compensation for our clients, and we have a history of proven results.

Remember deadlines apply, so it is better to call sooner than later. If you wait too late to seek legal help, you may be barred from seeking compensation for your damages.

Worried about the cost? As a personal injury law firm, we level the legal playing field by taking car crash cases on contingency. This means there are no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid for our services if we win your case and get you compensation through a settlement or jury-awarded verdict.

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