Heavy colds can have a detrimental effect on our driving ability, to almost the same extent as drink driving can, newly published research is claiming.
According to researchers and experts in car safety, a cold can slow a driver’s reaction times and limit their ability to concentrate.
The researchers have even gone so far as to say that operating a car with a cold is the equivalent to driving after consuming four double whiskies and the effect of doing so is as dangerous as drink driving.
People who get behind the wheel while they are feeling peaky also are a significant danger to other road users and could be the cause of thousands of road traffic collisions every year.
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The research, which was a joint project between UK motoring retailer Halfords and insurance company Young Marmalade, found that driving quality dropped to 60 percent in someone who, when healthy, were rated at 95 percent.
To collect the data on driving behaviour, the researchers used information on speed, cornering and braking which is stored in the car’s ‘black box’.
Although the study was only carried out on a minimal level, experts believe the findings should act as a firm caution to drivers.
Nigel Lacy, one of the co-founders of Young Marmalade, commented: “This small-scale trial provides a warning for motorists.”
“A heavy cold can impair a driver's mood, concentration and judgement.”
The evidence from the study is backed up by previous research which has found colds do in fact have a negative impact on concentration levels, alertness and reaction times.
In the separate study which was conducted by the Common Cold Unit at Cardiff University, it was revealed that hitting the curb while driving with a cold was three times more likely.
“Sneezing can be very violent, especially with a severe cold and causes the sufferer to close their eyes temporarily,” said PC Steve Rounds from the Central Motorway Police Group.
Meanwhile, the Winter Driving Expert from Halfords, Mark Dolphin, added: “We want our customers to stay safe.
“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.
Dolphin continued: “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.”
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