London, Feb 24 (IANS) Driving when you feel groggy with a heavy cold can be as hazardous as drunken driving, because of slow reaction times, says a study.
Drivers having a heavy cold not only take longer to stop a car but also drive too close to the vehicle in front making them less mindful of collision.
Their act of sneezing forces them to look away from the road for up to three seconds. "Having a cold is equivalent to drinking three or four pints and being over the limit," says Andy Smith, professor at Cardiff University, who led the study, the Daily Mail reports.
"People with a cold had slower reaction times than those associated with drinking," he says. "Colds slowed reaction times by 36 milliseconds. Yet consuming the amount of alcohol that would lead to a driving ban slows reactions by just 15 milliseconds."
While the physical symptoms of a cold are well known, researchers are increasingly looking at the effects it has on mental functioning. In the study, 50 people with a cold were tested and the results then compared to results for a group who were not infected over the same three-month period.
Results show that alertness was reduced by a third in cold sufferers. The effects did not seem to be altered by the severity of the cold.