Driving While Sick: Is it Safe?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting Americans all over the country. With symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, and drowsiness, it can cause people to be at risk while driving. This just not just go for people who have COVID-19, but for all illnesses. It happens every day that people will be sick and attempt to drive themselves to either get treatment, or just for normal transportation. Due to all of the symptoms people may have while sick and driving, it can cause drivers to become distracted by the pain or discomfort they are in.

Decreased Reaction Time, Increased Danger

If it is at all possible, you should have someone else drive you to where you need to go when sick. On the other hand, it is said that 26% of workers in the United States still go to work when sick. Even though work may seem like something you have to do, you should avoid going in at all costs if you would put yourself, or others, at risk. There are certain illnesses that you should always avoid driving with. Some of those include the common cold, the flu, and also COVID-19. Research has shown that drivers who drive with a cold can have up to a 50% decrease in reaction time and concentration levels. With the flu and COVID-19, the symptoms can also cause a reduction in reaction time.

Illnesses Affecting Eyesight

There are several other illnesses that are not considered safe to drive with as well. One of these illnesses is pink eye. Pink eye is considered very dangerous to drive with because it can often cause blurred vision in drivers. Another is the common stomach bug. Having a stomach bug can sometimes last for up to 72 hours and someone can have symptoms very quickly. Having a stomach bug can cause stomach pain, vomiting, and muscle aches. Having these symptoms can cause people to have to take frequent trips to the bathroom and could result in people driving recklessly because of the discomfort they are in.  Having a UTI is another common illness that people should not be behind the wheel while having, for these reasons as well.

Avoiding a Negligence Lawsuit

It is not unheard of that a sickness can lead drivers to a negligence lawsuit. In a research study conducted by Cardiff University, it was found that if someone were to be driving with a common cold, it can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. In the state of Kentucky, drivers are protected by the Sudden Emergency Defense doctrine, which states that if an event were to occur that a driver was not able to predict or avoid the accident because of, that they cannot be held liable. However, this may not always protect a driver who is driving with the flu, a cold, or even COVID-19 because it may become hard for the driver to prove that the illness or condition was unforeseeable or came on suddenly. Also, that person will need to show that they did not have any other alternative mode of transportation. If the person could have reasonably called a friend or family member to drive them or it wasn’t a life a death situation then the sudden emergency doctrine will not apply.

Overall, you should try to reduce your risk as well as others if you are sick, by having someone else drive you to either receive treatment, or to another commitment you may have. If someone who was sick hit you and they are trying to make excuses it would be a good idea to have a lawyer take a look at the case to evaluate what the law would say in your situation.

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