Anyone can catch a cold year-round, but people are most susceptible to the common cold during the winter months, as colder, drier air more easily spreads germs among those indoors. Most people don’t think much of going about their day with the common cold. However, research suggests that if you are sick, you may be a danger to yourself and others on the road.
For example, one study by the Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre in the U.K. reports that concentration when one is driving with a bad cold or a flu is lowered by 50 percent. To put that into perspective: That’s like drinking four double whiskey shots. Researchers studying the effects of being ill on reaction times behind the wheel discovered that sudden braking became increasingly common among sick drivers, who were much less aware of their surroundings. Instances of drivers hitting the curb went up by a third, as drivers were also apparently less capable of accurately judging the distance. A heavy cold, researchers say, impacts a motorist’s mood, judgment and concentration – all of which play a central role in safe driving.
Aside from this, there are numerous cases of drivers who are impaired by medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – to treat colds, the flu and other conditions. Just recently in South Carolina, a woman was criminally prosecuted in Kranchick v. State for driving impaired on cold medication, which resulted in her losing control of her vehicle on the highway, slamming into a tractor trailer and a smaller truck, killing that vehicle’s driver and seriously injuring a passenger and the tractor-trailer driver. Continue reading