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What Every Truck Driver Needs To Know About Dehydration

According to a study conducted by Loughborough University, drivers who are dehydrated make the same number of mistakes as intoxicated drivers. For this reason, it is crucial for truck drivers to stay adequately hydrated. If you are a truck driver, it's important to understand the risks of dehydration and how to protect yourself from a truck accident lawsuit. Here's what you need to know. 

What dehydration does to your body

Many people don't understand what dehydration does to their bodies. They may wait until they are thirsty before they reach for some water to drink. However, at that point, mild dehydration has already set in. Here are 3 of the ways dehydration can affect you and your driving abilities.

  • Impaired cognitive performance. Mild dehydration, which can occur before you feel thirsty, can reduce your cognitive performance. What this means is that dehydration makes it harder for you to think clearly and slows your brains reaction time to what you see. For example, if someone suddenly slams on their brakes in front of you your reaction time may be reduced, which may cause you to be unable to brake quickly enough to avoid an accident.
  • Hypernatremia. When your body has a low water content (dehydration), it causes hypernatremia, which is when your body's sodium level is higher than normal. This imbalance can cause you to be lethargic, have seizures, or go into a coma, any of which can cause an accident.
  • Hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome, (HHS). Being dehydrated means your blood has a higher concentration of sodium and sugar, which makes it difficult for water to reach your vital organs. This concentration causes hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome, which is most prevalent in diabetics. If you've never been diagnosed with diabetes, don't think this can't happen to you. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 Americans are diabetic and don't know it. Symptoms of HHS include confusion, lethargy, convulsions, and coma.

Staying hydrated & taking restroom breaks while on the road

Determine how much water you should drink, and try to space that amount throughout your waking hours. It's a good idea to keep a supply of bottled water in your cab. Keep a journal to help you keep tabs on how much water you consume each day. You can title the journal with a catchy phrase such as "Water Log". A journal can also be helpful in showing that you were vigilant in staying hydrated in case you are ever involved in a truck accident.

Many truck drivers are under time constraints, which makes them want to avoid making stops to use restrooms. However, since you now understand the importance of staying hydrated, you'll need take a look at your route and delivery schedule to ensure you can take adequate breaks to use restrooms. Sometimes, truck drivers are under restrictive limitations from their employers as to how often they can stop to use facilities and may get fired from doing so.

Helpful Tip: If you feel that you are too restricted in being able to take the necessary restroom breaks, share the above information and research with your employer.

Tests to have done if you are involved in a truck accident

Any time you are in an accident with your truck you'll want to have a thorough medical exam, especially with a complete blood workup to show you were not dehydrated. This may help win a lawsuit if an injured person wants to sue you for negligence due to not staying hydrated. Also, a lawyer can compare the post-accident medical exam with your most recent CDL medical exam to show your diligence in keeping healthy by staying hydrated.

For more information on laws relating to truck or auto accidents, talk with a lawyer from a firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC.