Is DWC Like A DUI?

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Dr. Dave Hnida (credit: CBS)

Dr. Dave Hnida (credit: CBS)

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Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorIt’s not the most scientific study in the world, but when you think about it, it makes a bit of sense.

Is Driving With a Cold, or DWC, as dangerous as driving while intoxicated? No question driving and drinking is just a horrible mix, and there are few things you can compare it to. But a new study looks at the effects to driving when under the weather to driving while drinking.

Researchers in England put little black boxes inside vehicles — these boxes could monitor things like speed, braking, and cornering — and found that when excellent drivers got a bad cold, their driving skills dropped by more than a third.

In other words, they drove faster, hit curbs, tended to slam on brakes and basically drove like they had a few drinks in them.

How many? The results were equal to someone who knocked down four whiskeys.

Now you might be tempted to blame poor concentration, slower motor skills, and lousy judgement on something else, say cold medicine. But these DWC drivers weren’t on any cold medicines. Meaning, just the fogginess of a cold led to fogginess behind the wheel.

So the advice would be to maybe take the bus when you’re sick. But then you’d infect the other passengers. You could drive sloooooooowly to work and really pay attention, but that could add hours to your commute.

Or maybe the best thing to do is just stay home — telling your boss for public safety reasons (and keeping your workplace healthier) that you shouldn’t be operating anything more complicated than a box of Kleenex.

This isn’t to downplay or compare the dangers and stupidity of driving with alcohol in your system. But I’m sure many other drivers wouldn’t like you closing your watery eyes and sneezing at 65 mph.

Be a smart driver. Don’t drink and drive. Or text and drive. Or yak and drive. Or take medicine and drive. Or now: be sick, thick and foggy and drive.

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