The Institute of Advanced Motorists has warned that drivers are putting lives at risk by ignoring cold and flu symptoms when getting behind the wheel.
If you’ve got a heavy cold or are suffering from flu, your concentration could drop by more than 50%, says the driving organisation, which could increase your reaction times.
Combine this with challenging winter driving conditions and medication that may result in drowsiness, and you could have a killer combination on your hands.
An IAM spokesman said:
“Drivers can travel up to 50ft with their eyes closed during a sneeze, meaning they can either temporarily lose control of their car or be involved in a serious accident; where you not only risk your own life but the lives of other road users.
“This is why it’s important to think about whether you need to ride or drive at all when suffering from a cold or flu. If you are stopped by the police after taking a cold remedy or driving when unfit to do so you could find yourself charged, disqualified or serving a lengthy prison sentence.”
A poll by the AA has previously found that a fifth of motorists admitted to driving while unfit – many due to flu or heavy colds.
Research by insurance company Young Marmalade using a black box GPS tracker found that driving ability when suffering from a cold or flu dropped by the same amount it would after consuming four whiskeys.
Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist CEO, David Williams, said: “Too many motorists fail to heed the warnings on certain medication packets and can find themselves becoming drowsy and dangerously tired at the wheel. Driving under the influence of drugs (even those prescribed by a doctor) is a serious criminal offence and can be dealt with in the same way as a drink driving conviction.”