Nissan Encourages You to Drink and Drive--with Water, Not Alcohol

Dehydration means that the body lacks enough fluid. Too much dehydration can lead to dizziness and lack of coordination and/or focus, all of which can be dangerous to a driver on the road. Nissan believes that driver dehydration is a serious issue, and so it teamed up with Droog, a conceptual design company based in the Netherlands, to create special seats and steering wheels that can detect a driver’s dehydration levels.

The prototype seat-and-steering wheel combo, dubbed as ‘Soak,’ is fitted with a cloth that changes in color once it detects that a driver needs to replenish lost body fluids. The cloth turns yellow when you’re dehydrated. After you re-hydrate, the cloth turns blue.

Nissan installed the prototype system into a Nissan Juke crossover to test its effectiveness. You may see the results of the test for yourself in the video below.

Nissan supported the need for ‘Soak’ by citing a study from the European Hydration Institute and Loughborough University in the UK that claimed dehydrated drivers are just as dangerous as those with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, the legal limit in both the UK and many US states. According to the researchers, when it came to driving errors such as lane drifting and late-breaking, dehydrated drivers tend to commit them with the same frequency as those with an 0.08% BAC level.

Nissan also referenced a couple of other studies, including one from 2013 where researchers claimed dehydration led to more than double the number of road accidents compared to hydrated participants. The third study revealed that two-thirds of drivers fail to recognize that they are already dehydrated, and continued to ignore the signs, including slower reaction times and loss of focus.

Whether Nissan’s new technology catches on remains to be seen. Naturally, many people wouldn’t want to see their sweat visually represented in their cars. There’s also the issue that the air conditioning system can mask your current hydration levels, rendering the tech useless. Still, it can and does have its applications. Plus, having cloth interiors that change in color could be interesting and attract car buyers looking for some uniqueness in their ride.

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