Driving in North West and Mid Kent

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you driving under the influence – of a cold?

Would you drink four double whiskies and then get behind the wheel?

Studies have revealed that if you drive whilst suffering with a heavy cold or flu, your driving ability drops by 50%: the equivalent of consuming over four double shots of alcohol. Motorists who drive whilst under the weather are less aware of surrounding traffic, brake more suddenly and corner erratically.

These winter months are so notorious for flu and colds that a number of organisations have carried out studies to look at the way we drive whilst feeling under the weather.

The studies have been carried out by a number of different organisations, including an insurance company, Young Marmalade (in association with Halfords) and the Cardiff University Common Cold Unit. The research was conducted by using vehicle tracking systems, which can record the position, speed, cornering, and braking times of motorists.

The tests revealed that the reaction times dropped sharply and sudden braking became much more frequent, as the motorist was less aware of surrounding traffic, while cornering also became erratic.

Driving ability is estimated to drop by over 50%, which is the equivalent to consuming over 4 large whiskies. With this level of incapacity, the chance of accidents increases significantly.

Halfords winter driving expert, Mark Dolphin, said: “We want our customers to stay safe. You shouldn’t drive if you are not feeling well. The best place to be when you have flu or a heavy cold is at home, but if you really must go out, get someone else to take you and avoid driving.

“Other drivers should be aware of those around them and if they see someone sneezing be prepared for the unexpected to happen and increase the distance between vehicles.”

Following the results of driving with a heavy cold, the Police have made a firm warning to drivers. If you get behind the wheel while suffering from a heavy cold you could be prosecuted.

Thanks to Hitachi Capital Driving Instructor Centre for this article, published 11 January 2012 on their website.

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