Achoow-much? Sneezing at the wheel could land drivers with a £2,500 fine and up to nine points on their license
It's reported that 18 million people suffer with hay fever in the UK and more than half of sufferers have admitted that symptoms affects their concentration levels whilst behind the wheel.
Sneezing, blowing a nose and searching for tissues is an excuse used for 2,500 accidents every month.
Vehicle leasing company, All Car Leasing, has highlighted the severity caused by sneezing behind the wheel, especially when driving on a motorway at 70 mph, research has found the driver will take their eye off the road for two seconds, resulting in driving 155 feet with their eyes closed.
The UK are currently in the weed pollen stage for hay fever sufferers which is the third and final stage of hay fever season and lasts until late September, with early mornings and late evenings generally being the worst times for pollen counts.
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If found sneezing was the cause of an incident the driver can be charged for driving without due care and attention which carries a fine of up to £2,500 and between three and nine penalty points depending on how severe the case is.
In court the only potential defence for this is automatism, the defendant would have to prove that the sneezing was so severe they physically couldn’t keep control of their vehicle.
Similar driving automatisms are if a bumblebee got inside and caused the driver to lose control of the car, but these are obviously rarely used defences.
Taking hay fever medications can also cause problems when behind the wheel. Drivers are being advised to check what is in their medication as the possible effects from driving could leave them dizzy or feeling sleepy.
It can be difficult for sufferers to just pull over and wipe their nose and eyes frequently whilst on a journey, but it may prove to be the only option if you are forced to get behind the wheel for a long period of time when the pollen count is high.
People taking over-the-counter medications to combat symptoms should be aware they are also risking a fine or a driving ban.
Antihistamines often found in hay fever drugs can even reduce reaction time and ability behind the wheel. Alarming figures have also shown that more than one in five drivers who take medication for hay fever have had a crash after taking the drugs.
Police have the power to charge drivers who have taken strong hay fever medication under the same drug-driving law as cocaine and cannabis.
Ross Wild, Digital Marketing Manager of All Car Leasing said: “Hay fever is horrible for sufferers every summer when the pollen count rises and there is no escaping it.
“If you happen to crash while sneeze and driving then you could be in hot water because it is hard to prove any form of defence. It is best to mitigate stances when needing to sneeze by removing yourself from harmful situations such as by slowing down beforehand safely or even better, by pulling over.
“For those that endure the worst symptoms it is easy to take some medicine, but this again could leave you in trouble so make sure you think before getting behind the wheel.”