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Is dehydrated driving a real concern?

Have you heard of dehydrated driving? Many people haven't, but a study in 2015 proved that not getting enough water actually decreases driving performance to the same level as a .08 blood alcohol content. Safe driving isn't just about obeying the law and abstaining from alcohol and drugs, it requires taking care of yourself and staying attentive.

What are the effects of dehydration?

Administered by Loughborough University in the UK, the study compared the driving results of men who were adequately hydrated with drivers who were not. Researchers deemed the level of hydration "mild," yet the drivers made twice as many errors while they were under observation. Researchers chose a mild level of dehydration to reflect realistic results--most people have busy days where they forget to drink as much water as doctors recommend. Research has shown that dehydration side effects include slow reaction time, slowed memory recall and negative moods--all of which also affect your ability behind the wheel of a vehicle.

What does the future hold?

While it's still in the testing phase, Nissan recently developed a cloth that detects a driver's level of hydration by measuring chemicals in their sweat. The cloth is only in the testing stage, but analysts suggest it could be used on a driver's seat or steering wheel to alert a driver to consume more water.

Safe driving and human error

Nobody knows what technology will come next, whether that means cars that detect a driver's health or further advancement in automated cars. What we already know is that human error is the leading cause of car accidents today. Drivers need to remain vigilant and defensive when they're driving, making sure they pay close attention to lane markers, weather and road conditions.

If an inattentive or negligent driver has caused an accident, they are liable for damages. This includes physical damage to your car, and also compensation for medical bills, related loss of time and income, and personal damages that include pain and suffering. If you've been in an accident, you should immediately file a police report, document the situation, and contact a physician for a medical checkup. Injuries are often slow to surface and a clear medical history provides the best proof of damages.

As you drive, keep healthy, keep a bottle of water nearby, and keep your eyes on the road. Maybe someday a sensor will tell the other drivers they need to hydrate, but the technology hasn't arrived quite yet.

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