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Is It Dangerous To Drive While Sick?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2022 | Personal injury

There can be a lot of contributing factors to dangerous driving. Intoxication, fatigue, and distraction are some of the biggest. But there are other situations that can prove just as hazardous. And any one of these situations could put you and your loved ones at risk, potentially even leading to a devastating collision that results in injuries, financial loss, and emotional turmoil.

While much of the focus has been placed on how to reduce accidents caused by drunk and distracted driving, there’s one oftentimes overlooked issue that can impact roadway safety: driving while sick.

What the research shows

Having a minor sickness like the common cold has a more dramatic effect on your driving abilities than many people realize. In fact, one recent study showed that those who had a cold were more likely to follow the vehicle in front of them too closely, which can increase the risk of being involved in a rear-end collision.

The study also found that being sick drastically reduces your reaction time. In fact, the study tested subjects who were tasked with braking once identifying a pedestrian in a crosswalk and found that those who were sick had reaction times similar to those who were at the legal limit for alcohol content.

As if that’s not enough, the effects of being sick go even further, including the following:

  • Increasing your fatigue and tiredness: When you’re sick, your body fights off the infection inside your body. This can cause you to feel worn out, fatigued, and tired. As a result, your reaction times and overall alertness may be diminished.
  • Increasing the chances that you’ll be medicated while behind the wheel: Taking decongestants and antihistamines can leave you feeling tired and groggy, which may increase the chances that you wind up involved in a serious accident.
  • Disrupting your sleep: When you’re sick, you may not be able to sleep very well. This, too, can cause you to be excessively tired while driving, which may put you and others at risk of being hurt in an otherwise avoidable car accident.
  • Forcing you to momentarily close your eyes: When you sneeze or blow your nose, you’re going to close eyes. Although the amount of time that passes with your eyes closed might seem pretty short, it doesn’t take long for a significant distance to pass and for traffic situations to change. Therefore, your inability to control a runny nose or stop a sneezing fit could put your safety in danger.

As you can see, driving abilities can be tremendously impacted when you’re sick. So, if you’re feeling ill, then it’s probably best to stay home to rest or find someone else to drive you to where you need to go. We know that’s not always possible, but it’s the best way to keep you and your family safe.

Have you been injured in a car accident?

While there’s a lot that you can do to try to keep yourself on the roadway, you can’t control everyone. That means there’s always going to be an inherent risk of being injured in a car wreck. If you are injured in one of these crashes, then you’ll need to find a way to cope with the damages that have been thrust upon you, including those that are physical, emotional, and financial in nature. This may require you to take legal action in the form of a personal injury lawsuit.