Suffering from dehydration can impair your judgement and reaction time the same way alcohol can, says a new study
Be sure to drink before you drive—water, that is. Driving while dehydrated can be just as inhibiting as cruising intoxicated, reports a new study published in the Journal of Physiology and Behavior.
British researchers found that people made the same number of mistakes driving when dehydrated as when they were drunk. And both parched and intoxicated motorists made twice as many mistakes as well-hydrated operators. Not having enough water can lead to reduced brain activity, concentration, alertness, and impair your short-term memory, the researchers say. (6 Reasons Drinking Water Helps Solve Any Problem.)
“There is no question that driving while incapable through drinking or drugs increases the risk of accidents, but our findings highlight an unrecognized danger,” lead author Ron Maughan, Ph.D., told The Telegraph. “'We all deplore drunk driving, but we don't usually think about the effects other things on our driving skills, and one of those is dehydration.”
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to fix the problem. The quenched participants were only filling up on 200 milliliters of water per hour—less than seven ounces. The Institute of Medicine recommends about nine cups of water for women every day, so if you’re usually around that mark, you’re probably hydrated enough to drive unimpaired. If you have trouble keeping your levels up, be sure to down a bottle before you get behind the wheel. (And if water is just too plain for you, check out these 8 Infused Water Recipes to Upgrade Your H2O.)