If you thought driving while under the influence of alcohol was bad, wait til you hear what being under the influence of influenza can do to you.
A new study by Cardiff University looked at a group of 50 people with a cold and compared them against a group of people who were perfectly well. After three months of testing, researchers found the reaction times of people with colds slowed by 36 milliseconds. In comparison, drinking four pints can cause reaction times to drop by ‘just’ 15 milliseconds.
“Having a cold is equivalent to drinking three or four pints and being over the limit,” explained Cardiff University professor Andy Smith, who headed the study. “People with a cold had slower reaction times than those associated with drinking.”
The research also found participants would take their eyes off the road for as long as four seconds when sneezing, the equivalent of 40 metres if driving at 30mph and 120 metres at 70mph. Cold-bearers also had a tendency to drive more closely to the vehicle in front, making them more prone to accidents.
Interestingly, the study found alertness dropped by a third regardless of the perceived severity of the cold, which suggests mild colds are just as dangerous as even the most debilitating forms of man flu.
Although the sample group is incredibly small and by no means a fair representation of the UK population, few people would dispute the fact colds do have the potential to affect our moods, reaction times, concentration and alertness.
Driving with a cold is not illegal according to UK law, but cold sufferers are not immune to punishment. Being found unfit to drive by the police carries the same punishment regardless of what causes you to be unfit in first place, so expect a hefty fine and prosecution if police discover your constant hacking and streaming eyes has caused you to veer off the road.
Source: Daily Mail