A study has found that driving while dehydrated can be as bad as drink driving. Many drivers wouldn’t drink while under the influence, but many of us probably haven’t given a second thought to whether we’ve managed our eight-glasses-a-day.
But with studies showing that dehydration can impact your concentration and cause mood swings, drinking enough water is essential to keeping you (and others) safe on the road.
When you’re embarking on a long journey, it can be tempting to reduce the amount you drink to also decrease the number of stops you make. However, have you ever given much thought to what would happen if you were suddenly stranded without any water?
It’s unlikely that you’ll be stranded for over three days (which is roughly the amount of time it’ll take you to die from dehydration) however, severe dehydration can cause confusion, drowsiness and other complications. Those are symptoms you don’t want to be experiencing while driving on the road.
We’ve all experienced the lesser symptoms of dehydration, and these serve as a warning for you to quickly drink some water. They include a dry mouth, increased thirst, headaches and dry skin. Apart from water, which should be your first go-to when dehydrated, you can also drink milk or fruit juices and eat watery foods like cucumber. However, it’s important to avoid caffeine, fizzy drinks and alcohol (obviously you’d be avoiding the latter when driving anyway!).
If you know that you’ve got a long journey ahead of you, make sure you pack enough liquids to keep you hydrated throughout and also enough to cover emergencies or traffic jams. It’s also worth noting that protein requires water to be digested, so if you really want to be diligent, don’t eat a protein-heavy breakfast before setting off. Incidentally, if you’re tempted to skip liquids for less bathroom breaks remember this: pit stops are a good way to recharge your mind away from the steering wheel and keep your concentration at its best. In any case, skipping water or breaks to get to your destination more quickly may end up costing you more time and money if you end up in an accident because of it.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid dehydration on the road is to ensure you’re sufficiently hydrated well before your journey. The second-best way is to recognise the early symptoms before they become much more severe, and to have a quick glass of water when you first detect dehydration. It’s important to keep your vehicle well stocked with liquids and liquid-rich food like fruits if you’re going on a long journey. Sports drinks with added electrolytes can also come in handy for long-haul trips.