Road Accidents: Is Driving While Sick with the Flu Considered Negligence?

Cold and flu season is at its peak during the cold winter months. And, in 2020, there is an additional challenge in the form of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, to deal with. Statistically speaking, COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease. The infection rate is high in that it multiplies every 7.4 days. However, most people who will get infected either will have no symptoms, or they will only have mild flu-like symptoms.

Thus, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume that you have a bad case of flu. Should you be driving? And, if you are involved in a road accident, even if you are on your way to a doctor’s appointment or urgent care, will the accident be considered your fault? And, will you be held liable by your motor vehicle insurance?

Liability and negligence when driving while sick

The Woodstock auto accident attorneys have a simple answer to this question. And it is: Yes, you can be held liable for a road accident if you drive while sick with a cold or the flu.

There are several valid reasons for this answer. Thus, by way of expanding on this statement, let’s consider its rationale by looking at the following points:

Driving with a bad cold or flu is like driving drunk

A 2012 study was conducted jointly by a UK-based car insurance company, Young Marmalade and Cardiff University in Wales. In summary, “motor safety experts found that the driving skills of people who were sick were estimated to drop by about 50% when compared with those who were healthy.

The sick drivers’ reaction times were slower, and they experienced severe concentration losses. The fundamental difference between ill and healthy drivers was so extreme that researchers equated sick drivers to “people who were driving under the influence of four double whiskeys.”

Common flu and cold preparations’ side effects prevent safe driving

Many of the common cold and flu preparations contain Pseudoephedrine which is a decongestant that shrinks the blood vessels in your nasal passages. Its primary function is to drain fluid from your sinuses, inner ears, and nasal passages.

However, several of its side effects include an increase in anxiety levels or nervousness, dizziness, lack of concentration, and hallucinations. Thus, it is not a good idea to drive if you experience any of these side effects as there is a very good chance that you will cause a car accident.

Sneezing results in road accidents

A 2013 article published in the, stated that “drivers who sneeze behind the wheel cause 2500 accidents a week.”

Research has shown that sneezing drivers can travel up to 50 feet with their eyes closed during the sneeze. Additionally, behaviors, like reaching for a tissue and blowing your nose, can cause enough of a distraction, especially if you are not feeling well, that you could lose concentration and cause a road accident.

Final thoughts

Even though some of these reasons for not driving while sick sound crazy, it’s best not to take a chance and drive while you are not feeling well. The risk is not worth it.

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