Is it Dangerous to Drive While Sick?

image of sick driver

Driving requires your full attention at all times to avoid an accident. Distractions or impairment can lead to disastrous consequences. Driving while sick can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. The common cold can impair the ability to drive by up to 50 percent. Illnesses and medications can produce the same effects as drunk driving, such as:

  • Slow reaction time.
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, or falling asleep behind the wheel.
  • Impaired decision-making ability.
  • Inability to focus.

In fact, these dangers of driving while sick prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to prohibit commercial truck drivers from operating during illness, and trucking companies are forbidden from requiring or permitting their drivers to operate when sick.

While there are no regulations prohibiting non-commercial drivers from operating a vehicle while sick, you can be found negligent if you cause an accident while ill and also face potential fines.

What Are the Risks of Driving While Sick?

Several prescribed and over-the-counter medications and certain medical conditions can make getting behind the wheel extremely dangerous. Avoid driving if you are suffering from:

  • COVID-19.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Bronchitis.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Influenza.
  • Stomach viruses.
  • Severe migraines.
  • Ear or eye infection.

According to the National Safety Council, you should not drive if you are experiencing symptoms that could lead to distracted driving. Many symptoms or actions can be distracting, such as:

  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Fatigue or drowsiness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Reaching for tissues or medications.
  • Searching for directions to or calling the doctor’s office.

What Should I Do if I am in an Accident With a Sick Driver?

Despite your own careful driving, accidents can still happen if you encounter an impaired driver. If you are involved in an accident, you should:

  • Report it: Contact the police to report the accident, and request emergency first responders if there are injuries to anyone involved.
  • Document everything: If you are physically capable, photograph the scene of the accident, including damage to both vehicles, road conditions, signage, or lack thereof, traffic lights, current weather, obstacles, obstructions, and anything else that may have contributed to the accident. If the driver is visibly impaired, document the behavior if it is safe enough to do so. This will also be included in the police report.
  • Exchange information: Exchange names and contact information with the other driver, and do not engage in conversation, arguments, or apologize for any role you may have played.
  • Witness statements: Gather names, contact information, and statements from witnesses if you feel comfortable. If not, the police will obtain witness statements that you can request later.
  • Seek medical attention: If your injuries were not severe enough to have been transported to the emergency room, seek a medical evaluation no more than 48 hours following the accident, even if you think your injuries are minor. Many conditions do not present symptoms for hours or days but could be life-threatening if untreated. A doctor’s evaluation is also the most crucial report in your claim as well.
  • Maintain records: Following the accident, keep any and all records and bills you receive related to the accident, as these will be crucial for your claim.
  • Hire an attorney: While legal representation is not required, hiring a seasoned attorney is your best chance to receive maximum compensation.

Washington DC Car Wreck Lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Represents Clients Injured by Sick Drivers

Driving while experiencing symptoms of illness can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to file a claim against them. A Washington DC car wreck lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King can help. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we serve clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.