Hay fever and driving

Posted on July 11th, 2011 by David Williams MBE

When you reach my grand age (60 next birthday) you become more aware of the awful illnesses that begin to strike.

However, succumbing to the misery of hay fever after nearly 6 decades was not a worry that was high on my ‘concern’ list.

Yet a couple of weeks ago during a long grass mowing session I noticed my eyes were continually itchy, streaming with tears and rather swollen.  Blaming the problem on the strange location of the mower’s grass box which sprays dirt, grit and cuttings into the user’s face every time it is emptied, I soldiered on.

However, the next day the problem got worse and people started to enquire what tragedy had occurred to make me cry so much.  I was in danger of drowning in a tidal wave of tears and wet tissues.  Then the dreaded H.F was mentioned.  “But I don’t suffer from ……..” I argued.

“It can strike at anytime in your life boy” was the message given by one who knows and I was promptly dispatched to the pharmacist to receive some eye drops especially formulated for such conditions.  I am pleased to say that the remedy worked and after a couple of days the symptoms had faded.

Hay fever and driving

However, this incident got me thinking about the seriousness of hay fever to motorists and what effects it could have in terms of road safety.

Apparently around 15 – 20 per cent of the population in the UK suffer some degree of hay fever and the figure is as high as 1 in 4 for motorists.

The worse symptoms are experienced from around mid May through to August and can include sneezing, runny nose, headache, itching and watery eyes, swelling of the eyes and many others.  Obviously any of these symptoms could affect a driver’s ability to drive safely.

It is of course an offence to drive if you are unable to maintain safe control of the vehicle and a long bout of sneezing could easily fall into this category.  At 30MPH a car travels 44 feet every second and so a long sneezing fit could easily mean that the driver is ‘blind’ for a long stretch of road.

Likewise it is also an offence to drive while unfit through drugs and this includes medication.  Some hay fever remedies can cause drowsiness and so it is vital to check with your doctor or pharmacist if the remedy could affect your driving.

GEM has prepared a list of helpful tips. Download our Don’t Motor on Meds leaflet today!