Should You Drive While Sick?

February 22, 2017 - 5 minutes read


It’s just another morning, but you wake up to a headache that feels like sides of your head are being pressed by a vice. As if that isn’t bad enough you have congestion so bad that it causes you to go through half a box of tissues in the span of an hour. You’ve only been awake for an hour and you already feel like you’ve gone through a full 8 hour day. Your instinct is to crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow, but there’s one problem…you have a deadline looming at work. You grab a generous dose of a maximum strength cough medicine, get in your car, and proceed to embark on the daily sojourn to the office. Unfortunately, the cough medicine is starting to kick in and you get a bit drowsy. In your cough medicine-induced fog, you almost crash head-on with another vehicle heading down your street. In your attempt to miss the other vehicle, you crash into a newly purchased luxury car that your neighbor got for Christmas. This may sound like a rare occurrence, but according to news stories like this one, it happens more often than you think. There are things to keep in mind when it comes to driving while under the weather and some things you can do to avoid becoming another instance of someone too sick to drive.

According to a study conducted by professionals for international insurance companies and universities, driving a vehicle while sick reduces your ability to respond on the road to a level that is equivalent to having “four double whiskeys.” A team of medical researchers for a reputable news agency estimated that about one million people could be driving while sick and dealing with a cold on any given day of the week. To better illustrate the impaired nature of people fighting an illness, a professor for Cardiff University discovered that colds slowed reaction times by 36 milliseconds versus the 15 millisecond reduction experienced from consuming alcohol.

The temptation to drive while sick can be a great one. Because of the effort needed to drive an automobile, the guidelines of whether you are too sick to work can be a good litmus test for your capability on the road. One of the first questions to ask yourself before helming your vehicle is whether the medication you are taking to either mitigate the symptoms or fight the illness can impair your ability to think or operate heavy machinery. A clinical professor from the University of California-Irvine School of Medicine concurs with the guidelines pertaining to medicine; if the sickness is so bad that you need potent medicine to fight it or mitigate the symptoms, put the keys down. If you feel as though you cannot perform the duties associated with your job, chances are your body is not up for the rigors of driving. However, if there are things that still need to get done, an online question and answer forum provided some common sense alternatives to turn to. See if there is a bus route in your area that can accommodate you in reaching your destination. If the buses cannot help you and you have things to buy, let your fingers do the walking on your keyboard or let your thumbs get a workout on your smartphone to see if you can buy what you need online and have it delivered that day. If you have kids and they have somewhere to be, see if your neighbors or fellow parents would be willing to set up a carpool arrangement that would allow your kids to meet their obligations.

In our hustle and bustle world, it’s very easy to get the impression that there is no time to get sick. Unfortunately, getting sick is unavoidable if you work with a lot of people, as most of us do. Hopefully, with a little awareness and some flexibility, getting under the weather does not have to become a costly experience on many levels. If you suspect that you have been injured by someone on the road that is impaired by an illness, feel free to reach out to the Law Offices of Michael Cordova to see what can possibly be done.