Warning to motorists during the heatwave

Driving whilst dehydrated can have a similar effect to being over the legal drink drive limit


A mini-heatwave is underway here in the UK, so motorists are being made aware of the dangers of driving whilst dehydrated.

Temperatures this week are set to reach as high as 90F, making it hotter in some parts of the country than it is in Tahiti!

And whilst the nice spell of weather is most welcome and very enjoyable, what drivers need to be made aware of is the danger of driving without drinking enough water.

According to a university study here in the UK back in 2015, driving whilst dehydrated can have a similar effect to being over the legal drink drive limit.

The study by Loughborough University found that even mild hydration can lead to drivers making errors whilst behind the wheel, similar to those made by motorists caught driving whilst over the legal drink drive limit.

The study involved using a panel of male drivers in a simulator. The results showed how the number of dangerous driving incidents more than doubled when individuals suffered from dehydration.

The results showed similarities to someone driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with late breaking and dangerous lane drifting increasing with motorists starved of water intake.

“To put our results into perspective, the levels of driver errors we found are of a similar magnitude to those found in people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 per cent, the current UK legal driving limit,” said Ron Maughan, professor of Sport and Exercise Nutrition at the university and chair of the European Hydration Institute Science Advisory Board.

“In other words drivers who are not properly hydrated make the same number of errors as people who are over the drink drive limit,” added Mr Maughan.

So as the mini-heatwave continues here in the UK, motorists are being urged to recognise the symptoms of dehydration. Driving whilst dehydrated can lead to muscle cramps, slower reaction times and loss of focus which is not just dangerous for the driver but other road users too.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 motorists from the UK, two-thirds (67%) had no idea what the signs of dehydration were. Health authorities in the UK recommend people should drink around two litres of water per day when the weather is hot to stay hydrated.

In a survey it was discovered that 37% of drivers only drink one litre, whilst 18% of those taking part confessed to drinking even less.

“Before you start a journey you should make sure your vehicle is prepared but, just as importantly, you should ensure that you are ready and fit to drive,” said Iain Temperton, director of communications at Road Safety GB.

The poll results also found that male drivers (62%) are slightly more aware of the dangers of driving whilst dehydrated compared to women (55%). Drinking a glass of water before leaving the house and ensuring you have bottles of water in your vehicle can make all the difference, keeping you hydrated and safe on the roads, with less chance of being involved in an accident.

The symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration can include dry mouth, lips and eyes, feeling tired, feeling thirsty, feeling dizzy or lightheaded and going to the toilet less often than normal.


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