Health and Environment, Motoring|

Driving with a Cold Like Being Drunk

Sneezing Tissue Box HolderResearch carried out by insurance firm Young Marmalade and Halfords – a leading car parts, enhancement, camping, bicycles and mobility retailer – has found that drivers with heavy colds or the flu can suffer from a major lack of concentration when they’re on the road. Tests show that their reactions can be worse than motorists who have had four large whiskies. This puts both the drivers and other road users at risk, and experts are now urging people not to drive if they have a heavy cold.

The research was conducted with a black “telematics” box that records the speed, cornering and braking of motorists. Safety experts have found that victims of a cold have a dramatic rise in poor driving. Reaction times sharply fell, while sudden braking was more frequent due to the motorist not being as aware of the traffic around them. This shows that the ability to drive is estimated to fall by more than 50% when people have the flu or a heavy cold. This is the same as drinking four double whiskies, which insurance firms expect would lead to an accident.

Although there aren’t any official numbers recorded for accidents caused by flu and cold symptoms (eg. sneezing), the insurance industry speculates that drivers are responsible for thousands of crashes when they are sick. The research supports work done by the Common Cold Unit at Cardiff University, which suggested that people with the flu and colds suffer from poor alertness and reaction times and are one-third more likely to hit a kerb.

Young Marmalade co-founder Nigel Lacy says that their small-scale research is a warning for drivers that a heavy cold can impair their judgement, concentration and mood. Mark Dolphin, a winter driving expert for Halfords, says that they want consumers to stay safe. Motorists shouldn’t drive if they aren’t feeling well, while the best place to be with a heavy cold or the flu is at home. If a sick person has to travel, they should get someone else to take them and avoid driving. Other motorists should also be aware of other drivers around them. If they see someone sneezing, he added, they should be ready for the unexpected and increase the distance between their vehicles.

Police have added a warning to drivers that they could be prosecuted for getting behind the wheel while they are suffering from flu or heavy cold symptoms. Central Motorway Police Group Constable Steve Rounds says that sneezing can be violent – particularly with a severe cold. They can cause a person’s eyes to close temporarily, he added.

If a person’s eyes close while driving, it could result in a fatal crash that would be there fault. It’s simply better to not take a chance and stay home.




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