Hay fever danger for motorists
The high street car accessories, cycling and leisure retailer reveals that over a quarter (27 %) of motorists afflicted by hay fever regularly take to the roads.
Scientists have warned that this summer is set to be one of the worst ever despite the highest rainfall in April since records began in 1910. Twice as many people suffer from hay fever today, compared with 20 years ago and according to the National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit, the total number of sufferers, currently over ten million people, could triple with 30 million people developing symptoms by 2030.
Latest analysis from Halfords shows that one in three drivers afflicted by hay fever admit that they have at some point been distracted while behind the wheel because of their symptoms.
A new survey reveals 34% of sufferers say they have momentarily lost concentration while driving because of, “repeated sneezing and/or streaming, sore, eyes”, while one in four motorists with hay fever (26%) think that their driving has been “impaired” by the condition, on more than one occasion.
Insurance companies estimate that more than 2 million UK motorists have had an accident, near miss, or momentarily lost control of their car as a result of sneezing while driving.
Road traffic experts are also warning motorists that driving while suffering from hay fever could, in severe cases, result in prosecution.
PC Steve Rounds, from the Central Motorway Police Group said: “Hay fever can cause frequent sneezing, forcing the sufferer to briefly shut their eyes and vision can also be affected by irritated, streaming eyes. So although I have a lot of sympathy for sufferers, driving while affected in such a way, would be irresponsible and could be held as an aggravating factor in any accident that led to a serious injury, or fatality, and in turn, expose the driver to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving.”
He added: “It is also important to be aware of the effects of drowsiness that some medication taken to ease hayfever symptoms can cause and to read warnings on product packaging carefully, before deciding whether or not to drive.”
Properly maintained vehicle air conditioning systems can be an effective defence for hay fever sufferers as pollen filters can help guard against allergies. Around 80% of modern vehicles have aircon systems with pollen filters which should be changed every 12 months.
Rory Carlin, Marketing Director at Halfords Autocentres said: “Despite the fact that most modern aircon systems are a great help in filtering out the pollen that causes hayfever, less than 2% of customers ask us to check or maintain their aircon units. Regular servicing of these systems is usually fast and simple and could save a great deal of discomfort for drivers and passengers.”
Hay fever hits younger drivers hardest with almost one in two drivers aged 18 – 25 affected, compared to 20% of motorists aged 50 and over