How Dehydration Causes Car Accidents
California drivers often hit the highways and face congested traffic and long periods behind the wheel. For those people traveling in California’s Central Valley, temperatures can reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit plus and the sun will relentlessly beat down on them as they travel along State Route 99 in Modesto, Interstate 5 in Sacramento, and State Route 4 in Stockton. For those persons who suffer from a medical condition causing them to become easily dehydrated or who take medication that causes dehydration, dehydration can become a major concern when deciding whether to operate a vehicle on long drives in congested traffic. Learning more about how dehydration causes car accidents can help drivers avoid hurting those in their own vehicles as well as others with whom they share the roadways.
Unfortunately, over the years Curtis Legal Group has represented victims of car accidents caused by dehydrated drivers who became dizzy or fainted, resulting in head-on motor vehicle crashes or rear-end collisions. These crashes can be catastrophic given that the dehydrated drivers tend to lose control over a fast-moving vehicle and not only cause great injury or death to others but may also cause severe injuries if not kill themselves too.
How Dangerous is Dehydrating While Driving?
Dehydrated driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Just like alcohol, mild dehydration can reduce concentration, slow reaction times, impair memory recall, and negatively affect one’s mood. Dehydration causes a variety of adverse health issues, including increasing your risk of car accidents. Studies have shown that both overheating and dehydration can seriously affect one’s ability to drive. In fact, driving errors nearly double during a two-hour drive if a driver is dehydrated.
High temperatures can decrease an individual’s ability to perform both physical and mental tasks, which increases their risk of causing a motor vehicle accident. At least one study found that the risk of car crashes increased 7.7 percent during heatwaves, especially in instances where the dehydrated driver was also distracted, fatigued, or engaging in other forms of driver error or negligence. This is because overheated drivers tend to drift out of their lanes, brake late, cross over rumble strips, make larger steering adjustments, and miss more traffic signs and signals. In addition, as temperatures rise so does driver aggression, leading to more road rage.
Dehydrated Drivers May Attempt to Avoid Liability
A dehydrated driver may attempt to defend himself or herself by contending that he or she suffered from a sudden onset of dehydration, a condition not known to the driver before he or she decided to drive. In this way, the driver will seek to avoid liability for the car accident they caused since a jury or judge may determine that the driver acted reasonably since he or she could not prevent this serious medical condition.
In response, the accident victim will need to argue that the adverse driver knew or should have known that he or she was susceptible to dehydration. The accident victim usually must subpoena the driver’s medical records to show that the driver was susceptible to dehydration due to various factors, e.g., prescription medication usage or a pre-existing medical condition.
Although a dehydrated driver may seek to block an accident victim from obtaining these medical records by claiming they are protected by his or her privacy rights, these privacy rights may give way under the law to the accident victim’s right to discover the truth as to whether or not the driver’s medical condition caused the auto accident. At Curtis Legal Group, we fight to get these medical records to help accident victims recover the maximum compensation they are due for their injuries and other losses.
Some people simply avoid drinking appropriate hydrating fluids before a long drive because they don’t want to have to stop for bathroom breaks or know they won’t be able to in California’s congested traffic. Unfortunately, however, when a driver is dehydrated, their alertness and ability to concentrate are diminished leaving them more likely to make errors as their ability to react to dangers decreases.
If you are someone who suffers from dehydration or takes medication that may cause dehydration, then reconsider whether you should be operating a motor vehicle for long periods and on hot days. Also, be sure to properly hydrate yourself and bring extra water or another beverage with you for long trips. Use air conditioning and turn it on and up before you get overheated. Limit your caffeine intake and factor in time to stop for restroom breaks and to rehydrate yourself.
If you believe a dehydrated driver or a negligent driver caused your car accident injuries, contact our Sacramento car accident lawyers to discuss the facts of your car accident or reach out to us online. All initial consultations for motor vehicle accidents of all types are free and confidential.