Mayo County Council is encouraging all drivers making essential journeys to ‘hit the bottle’ – that’s water not alcohol – to raise awareness of the impact dehydration can have on road safety.
With our roads and streets having less motorised vehicles on them because of COVID-19 and more people making their journeys on bicycle or on foot, road safety professionals are appealing to motorists to stay alert and focused by staying hydrated.
For a country that gets so much rain you wouldn’t think this would be a problem but with temperatures creeping up and summer finally looking like it may make an appearance, it is important to consider the risks associated with driving in hot weather.
While the dangers of driving after consuming alcohol are widely understood, there’s relatively little research on safe hydration levels for drivers. Motorists across Ireland are being urged to recognise the dangers of driving while dehydrated, which can have similar effects to drink driving. The previous research carried out suggests that even mild dehydration doubles the number of mistakes made by drivers. In this respect, dehydrated drivers are as bad as the intoxicated ones. The problem returns especially in summer when the temperature are high.
The study has found that drivers who are dehydrated can be just as careless as those who are drunk or on drugs. Dehydration causes fatigue. You’re much more likely to feel tired if you’re not adequately hydrated, Fatigue reduces our ability to recognise hazards, slow reaction times and impairs judgement.
A study led by Loughborough University in the UK has revealed that drivers make far more mistakes, such as late braking and lane drifting, when they are suffering from dehydration.
Health authorities recommend that on average, a person should drink around 2 litres of water per day. However, when driving in the summer in hot conditions you will need to drink considerably more than this to stay well hydrated. This is particularly important as dehydration can have an adverse effect on your concentration and alertness.
Drivers who had consumed only a sip of water (25ml) per hour made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were properly hydrated.
The number of errors was equivalent to those displayed by people with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% – the current UK drink-drive limit.
Mistakes included late-braking, drifting within a lane and even crossing lane lines.
Furthermore, approximately two-thirds of drivers are unable to recognise the symptoms of dehydration – tiredness, dizziness, headache, a dry mouth and slower reaction times.
Commenting on the research, Mayo Road Safety Officer Noel Gibbons, said 95% of all collisions in Ireland are down to driver error, with dehydration and fatigue comparable to alcohol consumption. 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. Driving on our ever more congested network is a task that requires full concentration. Making sure you are fully hydrated is a vital part of that process; the safety of vulnerable road users around you depends upon it.”
Types of drivers who may be at the most risk of dehydration:
Motorbike riders in full protective clothing
Trucks drivers who only stop for scheduled breaks