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Driving affected by cold and flu

2nd February 2009

A study carried out for Lloyds TSB Insurance has found that if a driver is suffering from a heavy cold or flu it can impact on how quickly he or she responds to hazards.

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The PCP research agency looked at 100 drivers in the UK, who carried out tests on a hazard simulator while they had a cold, flu, headache or were stressed. Out of the 100, 60 people had colds and the remaining 40 had "other conditions".

The study revealed that a person with a cold scored an average of 11% more poorly on the test - the same difference as drinking two measures of whisky.

The researchers said the 11% decrease in reaction would add one metre to the distance required to stop if a person was driving at 30mph - in addition to the regular distance of 12 metres. More than 2 metres would be added to the regular distance of 96m if driving at 70mph.

The insurance company also commissioned a YouGov poll of 4,000 people. It found that 22 respondents had been involved in an accident when they had a cold and five while suffering from flu.

They estimated that an extrapolation of the poll results would mean that of the 33.5 million adult drivers in the UK, 125,000 accidents were caused by drivers suffering from colds and flu.

Paula Llewellyn, a spokesperson for the company, said: "Getting behind the wheel when ill causes thousands of accidents every year. Try to avoid driving if you're suffering from cold or flu."

Duncan Vernon, road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "A common sense approach is needed as it is possible to drive safely when feeling 'slightly under the weather', but a point may be reached when it is unwise to drive."

"People need to be honest with themselves about their ability to drive safely." 

 

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