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Dehydrated Driving vs. Drunk Driving

Everyone knows how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel while drunk, even though people are still willing risk their own lives and the lives of others on a nightly basis. A new study shows driving while dehydrated may be just as bad as drunk driving, according to a recent news report from Inquisitir.

bottle-1119962-m.jpgIn a study, drivers who were intoxicated above the legal limit and drivers who were dehydrated made two times as many mistakes as those who were sober and properly hydrated. It should be noted, this was not severe dehydration where the people were risking death, but rather mild dehydration. Researchers wanted to be clear the purpose of their study was not to minimize dangers of drunk driving, but rather the make people aware of a danger with is largely unknown at this time by the general public.

Specifically, even mild dehydration can lead to negative effects on a person’s mood and reduced concentration, alertness problems, short-term memory trouble, fatigue, and headaches. All of the symptoms make it much more difficult to concentrate on driving a motor vehicle safely as to prevent a car accident.

Study managers calculated the proper amount of water to stay hydrated is between six and seven ounces per hour, provided you are not engaged in a strenuous physical activity or in an extremely hot environment. Drivers in the dehydration group were given just 0.8 ounces of water per hour and their driving skills were equivalent of those given enough alcohol to have a .08 blood alcohol concentration, which, as our Boston drunk driving accident attorneys can explain is the legal limit in all U.S. states including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

One of the biggest dangers study researchers found was from drivers who chose not drink to avoid having to stop for bathroom breaks as this leads to increased level of dehydration, which in turn increase the risk a driver will cause a serious traffic accident.

The study was conducted using driving simulators and volunteers who came to the laboratory three separate times. Each visit lasted two days, and they used the simulator on a normal hydration day and a dehydrated day. Researchers simulated a variety of driving conditions and on the dehydrated days, noticed errors in lane shifts, delays in applying breaks, crossing rumble strips on the side of a road, as well as other dangerous driving behavior.

While this is not say sober and well-hydrated drivers didn’t exhibit any of these common driving problems, there was a statistically significant increase. According to this study, there typically 47 distracted driving incidents each session with hydrated drivers and 101 or more troublesome driving behavior incidents observed when drivers were dehydrated.

This study exposes one of the lesser-known dangers of dehydration, and will hopefully lead to a reduction in the number of car accidents. However, it should be noted, while this information is interesting and will lead to future studies, it will not necessarily be relevant in a car accident lawsuit unless it can be shown alleged at-fault driver had actual knowledge of the dangers of dehydrated driver. You should speak with an experienced car accident lawyer about the facts of your particular situation.


If you have been injured in a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Dehydrated Drivers As Bad On The Road As Drunk Drivers, Study Suggests , April 19, 2015, Inquisitir
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Preparing Responsible Servers for the Upcoming Holiday Season, November 17, 2013, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog