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Why Hydration Matters While Driving

Cautionary tales about dehydration are usually reserved for active industries: the news will be filled with stories about dangerous construction jobs in the South or athletes who practiced too long without water. But dehydration can impact everyone, and it's especially dangerous for truck drivers because it's easy to think we need water less because we're moving less.

Why is hydration so important for truck drivers?

  • Hydration impacts your response time. Even if you're driving along a calm interstate, conditions can change in a split second. Being able to respond to traffic changes or someone suddenly veering into your lane, whether you have to swerve at just the right angle or slam on the brakes, is a matter of fast timing. People who drink water experience reaction times that are 14% faster following the drink, and this is especially true for people who were thirsty or dehydrated.
  • Altitude changes can make you dehydrated before you realize it. You sweat more at higher altitudes, even if the temperature stays the same, because sweat evaporates faster. Even in the upcoming cooler weather, high altitude dehydration remains a danger because you have to breathe more (and expel more water) because of lowered oxygen levels. Whether you've entered mountainous terrain for just part of your route or you expect to spend a couple of days high above sea level, make sure you're drinking extra water to offset these effects.

Truck driving can be hard on the body; in fact, OSHA regularly regards it as one of the most injury-prone occupations. But drinking water and staying hydrated, especially in response to weather changes, altitude shifts, and your own thirst response, can make it safer.