blog home Car Accident Do You Know the Dangers of Dehydration (and Driving)?

By Renee Nordstrand on November 7, 2017

bottle of water being poured into a glass

While the dangers of driving under the effects of alcohol or sleep deprivation are well documented and publicized, there is another risk factor that is rarely talked about: dehydration.

Research published in Physiology and Behavior shows that the number of driving errors doubled during a two-hour drive when drivers were “mildly” dehydrated versus hydrated. The greater the dehydration levels, the more errors were recorded.

Driving while dehydrated, such as after a workout or a day at the beach in Santa Barbara, is just as dangerous as driving while impaired by alcohol or lack of sleep. In fact, Nissan has begun testing a new technology that actually changes the color of a driver’s seat to indicate if he or she is dehydrated. While this has not yet hit the market for widespread use, it could be a future method of keeping people safe and even showing liability after an accident.

The Dangers of Dehydration

Most people might not think about dehydration before getting behind the wheel of a car, but it is a serious issue. Research has shown that a lack of water can:

  • Impair judgment and cognitive ability, as well as
  • Alter your mood.

This means that a dehydrated driver will have slower reflexes and react to situations poorly. Changes in mood also create the possibility of road rage and reckless driving, since irritability and bumper-to-bumper California traffic are not a good combination.

Nissan’s New Color-Change Technology

Nissan is currently testing a new color-changing material that responds to salt levels present in a person’s sweat. The fabric is planned for seat backs and steering wheels, and should be able to measure sweat on a person’s clothes or hands gripping the wheel.

The material can measure whether the person is dehydrated or not, and changes color based on that measurement. When someone is properly hydrated, the material is blue; if not, the material turns yellow. The color is something in between – greenish – if a driver is not dehydrated but should drink some water.

The goal is to provide a driver with a warning that he or she may be dehydrated, and therefore at greater risk of making mistakes while driving. How could this material help prove liability?

Dehydration and Driver Liability

Anything that impairs a driver can make him or her responsible for an accident, and knowledge of that impairment is important. If a driver knows that he or she is dehydrated and should drink some water before driving, but fails to do so, then he or she could be considered negligent in a civil case.

That means that Nissan’s sweat-sensing seat backs could potentially be used to show negligence in a court of law, and then establish liability for injuries or damages caused by driving while dehydrated.

If you or someone you know has been in an accident, call NordstrandBlack PC right now at (805) 962-2022 to discuss your case.


Posted in: Car Accident