Driving with Allergy Symptoms Compares to Driving with .03 BAC

By ISABELLA MOLLER | imoller@kark.com

Published 07/28 2014 10:19PM

Updated 07/29 2014 06:39AM

If you drive while you're dealing with all the sneezing, runny itchy nose, and watery eyes, then you're putting yourself and others at risk on the roadways. A study out of the Netherlands shows that driving with allergy symptoms is the equivalent of a .03 blood alcohol level.

Richard Goeglein suffers from allergies and said he isn’t surprised by this study. "Sometimes you can’t breath and you have a sneezing fit or something that can be a problem too when you’re driving a car,” said Goeglein.

Goeglein believed this is possible because you never know when the symptoms are going to hit.

“You have to fight to find a Kleenex while you’re driving or take your glasses off in my case to wipe your runny eyes and you hope you don’t go across the line on the road while you’re doing this,” said Goeglein.

 Participants of the study in the Netherlands took a 60 minute driving test to see how many times they veered into the center lane. This method is called Standard Deviation which is a method to assess drunk driving.

Doctor William Smits, Assistant Professor with IU School of Medicine said this study doesn’t surprise him either. Smits said, “Doesn’t surprise me that the loss of focus or distractions by symptoms would result in something as similar to impaired driving.”

The study shows that if you don't take your antihistamine medicine you're more likely to be distracted while driving.

Goeglein agreed, “If you don’t take the medicine you have to pay for it."

Dr. Smits said the problem with allergies is that they cause a feeling similar to Attention Deficit Disorder. “Someone would be very distracted very uncomfortable and have difficulty focusing on a task,” said Smits.

Doctor Smits says, the bottom line is, “Remember how you felt and if you’re bad enough you actually feel like you shouldn’t be out doing anything and allergies can give you symptoms just like that so you can imagine what it would be like to drive feeling absolutely miserable."

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 1 in 5 Americans suffer from all kinds of allergies.

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