January 9, 2012
Driving While Sick May Be As Dangerous As Driving While Drunk
New research is warning that getting behind the wheel while dealing with the symptoms of a bad cold could be as bad as driving while intoxicated.
In fact, according to a Thursday report by the UK Press Association (UKPA), the study -- a joint project of insurance firm Young Marmalade and vehicle maintenance and parts retailer Halfords -- claims that a severe illness could impair driving ability "to the same extent as downing more than four double whiskies," and that motorists driving with the flu or another similar illness could be responsible for "thousands of accidents a year."
"Safety experts have found a dramatic increase in poor driving when cold sufferers were subjected to scientific tests," the UKPA report added. "Reaction times dropped sharply, sudden braking became much more frequent and cornering became erratic as the motorist was less aware of surrounding traffic."
The Telegraph reports that the research was carried out using a black "telematics" box to record speed, braking, and cornering. The researchers found that driving ability decreased by more than 50% when the person operating the motor vehicle is nursing a substantial illness.
"We want our customers to stay safe," Halfords Winter Driving Expert Mark Dolphin told the Telegraph on Wednesday. "You shouldn't drive if you are not feeling well."
"The best place to be when you have flu or a heavy cold is at home, but if you really must go out, get someone else to take you and avoid driving," he added. "Other drivers should be aware of those around them and if they see someone sneezing be prepared for the unexpected to happen and increase the distance between vehicles."
According to the UKPA, the new study's findings support previous work done in south Wales by the Cardiff University Common Cold Center. Their word illustrated that those suffering from cold or flu symptoms had poor reaction times, low alertness levels, and were at greater risk of becoming involved in an automotive accident.
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