If you are an owner operator of a trucking business, there's no doubt that you have insurance to cover damages and injuries from accidents. Not only is it mandated by law, but it can save your business if you cause an accident in your semi. But the best coverage of all is to do as much as possible to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. One thing that is crucial to accident prevention is to stay hydrated while on the road. According to research, dehydration has the same effects as drunk driving. Here's what you need to know.
What Dehydration Does to Your Body
You wouldn't drive your semi without all the fluids it needs because that would just be asking to break down. You also need fluids. Dehydration causes a reduction in your cognitive performance, which slows your reaction time and causes you to be unable to think clearly and process thoughts quickly. On the roadway, this can lead to things like failure to apply your brakes fast enough and being unable to recognize when traffic is moving slow in front of you.
Dehydration can also cause vision problems, such as dry eye and eye strain, which can result in blurred and/or double vision, and headaches. You may find yourself uncontrollably blinking your eyes repeatedly if you are dehydrated, especially in bright sunlight or when oncoming traffic has glaring headlights that shine directly into your eyes. Not being able to see properly while driving a semi is obviously detrimental to yourself and to others on the road.
When your body is dehydrated it causes the sodium level in your body to be higher than it normally should be. This is a medical condition that is called hypernatremia. When the body is high in sodium, the person is at risk of going into a seizure and/or becoming lethargic. There is also a risk of coma. Any of these symptoms of hypernatremia can, no doubt, cause an accident if they occur while you are driving.
Thirst Is A Warning Sign that You Need Water
Now that you understand why it is crucial to stay hydrated, especially while operating a semi that is difficult to bring to a stop and keep under control, it's important to know how to determine when you are dehydrated. Feeling thirsty is one of the signs that you need to drink more water; however, your body is already dehydrated when you feel thirsty.
Instead of drinking water only when you feel thirsty, make a point to drink water throughout the day, especially when you are not thirsty. Figure out how much water you need to be hydrated or ask your physician for his or her recommendation. Keep track of how much water you drink by keeping a journal and making notes each time you finish a bottle of water. This journal can be helpful in case you ever do get into an accident and the insurance company asks if you were dehydrated.
One thing about being an owner-operator is that you get to set your own schedule, based on your clients' needs, of course. Given that you need to stay hydrated, you'll need to schedule in appropriate rest stops for breaks so you can use the facilities.
Avoidance of drinking water and other beverages in order to push through and not have to stop for bathroom breaks so deadlines can be met is commonplace in the trucking industry. However, as you learned in this article, doing so could be detrimental to your health and could also cause you to have an accident. Staying hydrated can help keep you and others safe!
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