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Is driving while sick like driving while intoxicated?

Driving seems to be more dangerous today than ever. That’s despite public safety initiatives aimed at curtailing drunk and distracted driving. While texting and driving and substance abuse are major contributing factors to this dangerous driving, there are other issues that can make driving riskier than many people realize. Amongst them is driving while sick.

How being sick affects driving ability

Believe it or not, suffering from an illness as minor as the common cold can have a tremendous impact on your driving capabilities. In fact, one study showed that those who were sick and were tasked with identifying a pedestrian in a crosswalk and coming to a safe stop had delayed reaction times that were consistent with those who had been consuming alcohol. Tired drivers have also been found to follow the vehicle in front of them more closely on a more consistent basis. This makes driving while sick more like drunk driving that a lot of people expect.

Sickness and fatigue

Perhaps the biggest reason why being sick can lead to dangerous driving is because it leads to excessive tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how:

  • Immunity system reactions: When you’re sick, your body kicks into overdrive to fight whatever infection you might be facing. This can lead to inflammation and a feeling like you’re tired all the time. This fatigue can lead to poor concentration and decreased reaction time.

  • Use of medication: A lot of medications related to common illnesses can make you drowsy. This means that those who are battling something like the common cold can end up climbing behind the wheel when they’re far too tired to operate their vehicle properly.

  • Poor sleep: Congestion, sore throat, and coughing can make for a bad night’s sleep. This, in turn, can leave a driver tired the following day. Once again, this fatigue can lead to a decrease in driving skills, which can prove dangerous for those on the road.

  • Long workdays: A lot of people find themselves tired after a long workday, let alone a long workday when battling a sickness. This can exacerbate the effects of tiredness, which can amplify the hazards of dangerous driving.

There are other aspects of being sick that can affect safe driving. For example, if someone starts having a coughing or sneezing fit, then they may end up closing their eyes for a period of time while they’re driving. This can be problematic given the amount of distance that can pass when one’s eyes are taken off the road for only a few seconds. In that amount of time, a driver may veer into oncoming traffic, fail to spot a pedestrian, or neglect to stop at a traffic signal or stop sign.

How can drivers avoid the risks of driving while sick?

The best thing to do is for these drivers to stay home and rest. When that’s not possible, then it’s probably best for them to find someone else to drive them to where they need to go. That’s not always easy to do but is the best way to stay safe out on the road and protect others.

Have you been harmed by someone else’s negligence?

If you’ve been injured in a car wreck, then you’re probably looking to make your situation better by finding accountability and recovering compensation. That’s probably going to require you to pursue legal action against the driver and gather evidence to support your claim. Indications that the other driver was sick at the time of the accident may help support your case. So, if you want to learn more about how to do that in your case, then now may be the best time for you discuss your circumstances with an attorney of your choosing.

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