Common-cold virus increases risk of road-traffic accidents

Motorists suffering from a heavy cold or flu risk a major loss of concentration when behind the wheel, putting themselves and other road users at risk, new research has suggested.

A poll by insurance company Young Marmalade in association with Halfords, which used a black “telematics” box that records drivers’ speed, braking and cornering, found a sharp increase in poor driving among those with heavy colds.

Reaction times dropped sharply and sudden braking became much more frequent as the motorist was less aware of surrounding traffic. Cornering also became erratic.

In fact, driving ability fell by as much as half, the study found.

PC Steve Rounds of the Central Motorway Police Group said: “Sneezing can be very violent, especially with a severe cold, and causes the sufferer to close their eyes temporarily.

“Commencing a journey in such a state would certainly be irresponsible and could be held as an aggravating factor in any accident that lead to a death or serious injury, turning a careless act into a dangerous one and thereby exposing the driver to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving,” he added.

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