Don’t Drive with a Cold – Surprising Study

Posted by Sean DuBois on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Its the time of year when thousands of Oregonians are suffering with colds and flu. People still drive to the shops; mothers drive the kids to school and some people try to tough it out and drive to work, even when they should probably be at home in bed with a hot drink, a cold remedy and some cough lozenges. Now, a new study carried out in England has revealed that people who drive when theyre under the weather may end up causing accidents that necessitate the services of Portland auto accident attorneys.

The surprising results of the Lloyds TSB Insurance commissioned study have shown that driver illness has a significant impact on accident rates. To put it in terms that anyone can understand, driving with the flu is like driving after drinking a double whiskey. In statistical terms, driving with a cold or flu virus impairs driver awareness by up to 11 percent, so in any terms you care to use, thats a significant increase in risk for both the sick driver and the people sharing the roads with him or her.

Your Health Affects Your Ability to Drive

In terms of road safety, the scientific evidence indicates that drivers suffering with colds or flu are more likely to be in an accident than drivers suffering from stress, headaches, and even PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Drivers with a flu virus have poorer reaction times and lower levels of awareness than healthy drivers, even those suffering the complaints described above. These facts were ascertained through tests carried out on drivers using a hazard perception simulator. A total of 102 drivers were tested, with the following results:

  • Drivers suffering from stress, headaches and PMS had scores just 4 percent lower than the control group in terms of reaction times and awareness.
  • Drivers suffering from cold and flu scored 11 percent lower, which was considered a significantly greater risk factor.
  • Drivers consuming two shots of whiskey scored from 10 to 12 percent lower on reaction times and awarenessalmost exactly the same as those suffering from flu.

Sneezing May be the Worst Thing You Can Do

Its a scientific fact that its impossible to keep your eyes open when you sneeze. So when you sneeze while youre driving, you could be traveling significant distances with your eyes closed, depending on how fast youre going at the time. On average, it takes about two seconds to complete a sneeze, which means the distances you would travel with your eyes closed would equate to almost exactly one yard for every mile per hour. Even at 30 mph, this means youd travel 90 feet with your eyes shut. At 70 mphand you can still sneeze on a freewayyou would travel 70 yards with your eyes closed, and theres nothing you can do about that.

Portland auto accident attorneys know that theres always an increase in accidents during the winter time, but it seems that the increase is due as much to people driving while theyre sick as it is to slippery roads and bad weather. As cold and flu epidemics sweep across the state, the scientific evidence shows that one in 10 road accidents can be attributed to driver flu. The costs, both physically and financially, give serious food for thought.

Most drivers admit that they shouldnt drive after having a drink. They know they are more likely to cause an accident and do damage to both people and property if theyve consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Surprisingly, far fewer are aware of the negative effects of the flu virus on their driving ability. Almost half of those surveyed (46 percent) think that driving while sick will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on their driving ability. Almost four in 10 (38 percent) also admitted to having driven while suffering with a flu virus.

Another unique factor to be considered is that the very medication people take to make them feel better can impair their driving ability to an even greater extent. Many cold remedies contain ingredients that make people drowsy.

Now insurance companies and Portland auto accident attorneys are warning drivers to be aware of the dangers of being sick behind the wheel, to the point where they are asking their clients not to drive at all until they are feeling a lot better. One doctor who participated in the survey said, Safe driving requires concentration and good reactions, both of which are significantly reduced, even by just a mild cold. I would advise drivers suffering from (colds and flu) to avoid getting behind the wheel until they are better.

The figures may be surprising, but theyre backed up with hard facts and scientific research. Driving while sick can be bad for your health in more ways than one. Its especially dangerous if you throw medications or even minute amounts of alcohol into the mix, yet a shocking number of drivers see no harm in these activities. If youre an Oregon motorist who has been injured by a driver who shouldnt have been on the road, whether they had the flu or not, you should contact an experienced and dedicated team of Portland auto accident attorneys to represent your interests. They know how to deal with the insurance companies and will fight to get you and your family the compensation you will need to get on with your lives.

Categories: Car Accidents, Catastrophic Injury Accidents, Medical/Safety


Shulman DuBois LLC provides this blog as a public, educational, service for Oregon residents. As Portland personal injury attorneys, we want to help accident victims by offering information - this is not meant to be legal advice, as every case is unique. Unless otherwise stated, we do not represent any of the parties, nor do we specialize in the type of case discussed. These blogs are meant to be purely informational. If you've been in an accident and would like a FREE consultation with an attorney, call our firm today at 503-222-4411 to start understanding your legal rights.


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