Does Driving with a Common Cold Pose a Danger?

Jan 10, 2012 Posted by in Motor Vehicle Accidents and Safety

The list of distractions while driving is seemingly endless. Now, an ABC News report has identified yet one more distraction for drivers – the common cold.

According to British researchers, a person who gets behind the wheel with a heavy cold is just as dangerous as someone who has consumed four double shots of whiskey.

Although the full details of the study conducted by Young Marmalade, a UK-based car insurance company, and Cardiff University in Wales are not yet available, the researchers found that normally excellent drivers who were sick during the study drove erratically and had slowed reaction times. The ABC News Health blog cited data from the study that found that driving skills of sick drivers “dropped by about 50 percent when compared with those who were healthy.”

Researchers state that sick drivers are not primarily affected by cold medication, but by the lack of sleep from cold symptoms. Taking cold medication, however, may cause drowsiness, and may further impact the hazards of driving a vehicle while with a cold.

A quick calculation by ABC estimated about 1 million Americans will be driving with a cold on any given day. With this assumption, that’s an estimated 600,000 accidents a year that may be attributable to the common cold. This was based on the fact that 500 million Americans suffer from a cold each year, and nearly 90 percent of Americans drive each day.

What should you do if you have a cold?

Before driving you should ask yourself if you are able to drive safely feeling as ill as you do. If you are determined to drive, you should focus on the task at hand and follow basic safe driving skills. Cindy-Polo Serantes of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority suggests sick drivers should be more attentive, keep both hands on the wheel, buckle up and allow enough distance between themselves and the car in front of them.

There are no official figures for Florida drivers related to illnesses. However, driving while sick is seen as another form of distracted driving. According to Florida’s 2010 crash statistics, careless or distracted driving was the leading cause of accidents in the state. Over 47,500 careless driving accidents resulted in injuries, and 332 resulted in a fatality.

The list of distracted driving behaviors continues to grow, and our Treasure Coast car accident attorneys are going to continue to point out the dangers of not giving driving the full attention it deserves. The only way to help get Florida residents out of harm’s way from distracted drivers is by raising awareness of distracted driving.

An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to car accident victims in South Florida and the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm sponsors a Facebook campaign to help end distracted driving entitled Hang Up and Drive! We believe that distracted driving is a life-threatening behavior that can be stopped.

If a distracted driver in Florida has injured you or someone you love, call us today at (800) 299-8878 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.

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