The risks associated with drinking four double shots of whiskey are well known, but new research indicates driving while fighting the common cold is just as dangerous. According to research commissioned by a British insurance company, people suffering from a cold or flu-like illness experience a significant loss of attention and focus behind the wheel. This puts the driver and others on the road at increased risk for car accidents.
Details of Study
The study found sick drivers experience diminished reaction time, difficulty navigating curves and difficulty braking suddenly. The researchers found driving skills dropped by as much as 50 percent when drivers were suffering from the common cold or flu.
The British research was conducted on a fairly small sample size. But further studies are likely to come of this under-appreciated cause of motor vehicle accidents.
Different Types of Distracted Driving
Many new laws focus on distracted driving and cell phone use, but it is important to remember the cell phone is not the only form of distracted driving. Many drivers are still distracted by other commonplace activities, including changing the radio station, shaving, eating, putting on make-up or grabbing a snack for an upset child in the backseat.
Distracted driving is not a novel concept, and the notion that an illness like the cold or flu may impair driving does not surprise police officers.
Illness as an Aggravating Factor in an Accident
Officers advise other drivers to increase the distance between vehicles if they notice another driver sneezing. Some law enforcement personnel have even suggested that people who get behind the wheel when fighting a cold should be prosecuted if an accident results.
This is especially true if the cold is severe enough to affect vision or require the use of medication. Many cold medications can render a person unfit to drive, and should be used with care. As a result, anyone injured in an accident by a driver who was distracted can seek compensation for medical and rehabilitative expenses, as well as lost wages and potentially pain and suffering.
Just as people should not spread dangerous germs in the workplace when sick, they should not spread danger on the road getting there. If you injured in this manner, an experienced car accident attorney can help you assert your legal rights.