Suffering from allergies and being a driver are a combination of factors that poses a potential risk on the roads.
In a new campaign by the DGT, it is revealed how a sneezing fit of just 5 seconds, means that a car travelling at 90 kilometres per hour covers a distance of 125 metres, the distance greater than a football field, when the driver’s attention is distracted as a result. The sneezing fit can often last longer than 5 seconds though, perhaps 8, 10 or more, with the vehicle continuing to travel without the driver´s full attention.
On a normal, dry road, the overall stopping distance for a car travelling at 90 kilometres per hour is calculated at 65.7 metres, just half of the distance covered during our 5 second sneezing fit. During the reaction time alone, the vehicle would have travelled 25 metres. In other words, in the event of an incident ahead, there would not be enough time to react and stop.
Sneezing is only one symptom of an allergic reaction, most commonly Hay Fever at this time of year, severe itching of the eyes, irritation, congestion or a runny nose, light sensitivity and many more combinations of symptoms, all make driving particularly problematic for sufferers.
Drugs to combat the physical symptoms can help ease the dreaded onset of Hay Fever, but some of these drugs also cause problems with driving, sometimes causing drowsiness, or other problems, and can interact with prescribed medication.
Sufferers of Hay Fever might have already realised that the pollen season has started early once again in Spain, but it can vary depending on the geographical location.
Within the car, keeping the vehicle clean, inside and out, can remove much of the residual pollen, as can the installation of filters in the air distribution system. Keeping windows closed, wearing sunglasses and avoiding key problematic times such as dawn and dusk can all ease the symptoms.
All antihistamines sold in Spain should carry a pictogram on their packaging, depicting a car within a danger warning signal, which is designed to alert drivers of the possible effects on the ability to drive safely. However, it may not be present on imported medication. But, if you see this sign you need to be aware that your driving ability is likely to be affected. If you are taking any medication, make sure you read the instruction leaflet, or check with your doctor or pharmacist about interactions with other medication and driving.
The website from the Sociedad Española de Aerobiología, www.polenes.com, can offer information within Spain, and allows you to select the different regions to see the current status of pollen and help you plan your driving activities.