Catching a cold or coming down with the flu can be a major inconvenience. Life doesn’t stop just because you feel sick. Many adults feel compelled to go to work while sick. They may also have to transport their children places and meet other obligations.
The pressure to keep performing even while under the weather can lead people to underestimate the impact that their current medical condition could have on their driving performance. Just because you know you can muddle through your day at work while sick does not mean that it is safe for you to drive yourself to the office or transport other people.
Research compares driving while sick with alcohol impairment
You would probably agree that driving while you don’t feel good diminishes your skill, but you may not realize the degree to which physical illness could affect your ability to drive safely. According to research confirmed by multiple studies, cold symptoms impair drivers in the same way alcohol often does.
People with a cold take longer to apply the brakes. They struggle to remain aware of traffic conditions around their vehicle. They may even drive erratically, making them look like someone under the influence rather than someone with a mild illness.
As if the cold itself weren’t problematic enough, the medications people take to suppress cold symptoms can also make them feel drowsy or groggy. Many come with warnings about driving or operating heavy machinery, but people often ignore those warnings out of necessity or a belief that they can still drive safely despite their condition.
What does this research mean for you?
As someone who needs to reach their destination safely and who doesn’t want to endanger others, it is usually in your best interest to ask someone to do the driving when you don’t feel good. While it can be inconvenient to ask family members, friends or co-workers for help, choosing not to drive when you could pose a risk to others is the responsible thing to do.
Sadly, not everyone will make responsible decisions about driving. If you believe that illness contributed to a crash or that the other driver should not have been behind the wheel at the time of the accident, telling law enforcement officers who respond to the crash about your concerns is one good step toward establishing fault and your right to seek compensation.