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Updated on April 8, 2013


Let me be up front about it. I have put many lives in jeopardy recently through my selfish habit of driving a car when unfit so to do, at least if we are to believe the intrepid reseachers at the august University of Wales. You see, since the coal mines were closed it must have been difficult for the research teams there to find things to justify their continued existance until some great brain decided to pursue the dangers of driving with a cold.

So what do we now know as a result of this ground breaking research ? Firstly it is determined that driving with a cold gives you a slower reaction time than if you had drunk 4 pints of beer. Secondly, with a cold you also drive closer to the car in front and are less aware of a collision danger . If,God forbid, you were to sneeze, your eyes would leave the road for up to 3 seconds. I assure you dear reader that I am not making this up , it is documented and official research.

It gets better, or worse according to your point of view if more detail of this key research is brought to light. Apparently people with colds have a slower reaction time by {wait for it} 36 milliseconds to those without, whilst drinking enough alcohol to get you banned from driving, only slows reaction times by up to 15 milliseconds.

In the research 100 people were analysed. 50 who had a cold and 50 who did not and had not had one for at least 3 months. The latter group showed a drop in alertness of one third, regardless of the severity of the cold itself. It gets even better {or worse depending how you look at it] when we also learn that fighting infection causes chemical changes in the brain and these can cause mood changes as well as affecting memory and movement.

The classic conclusion reached is that people who drive with a cold {or it seems having had one within the last 3 months} "need to know the risks". Those were the actual works of the Professor who guided this earth shattering research. As I said earlier you could not make it up if you tried.


As a result of this research, the Police are faced with new problems and need help in seeking solutions to keep us all safe. For years, armed with a Breathalyser and their own educated noses they have patrolled the streets seeking out erratic drivers and testing them on the spot before, if necessary taking them to the Police Station for medical confirmation and/or other tests. Thus, the drunken driver and the drug fuelled racer get apprehended and our rates of accidents from such sources have diminished markedly. Now Police face new and intensive training to deal with this new found menace, the cold affected driver.

No doubt plans will soon be put in place for all custodians of the Law to undergo a new and intensive course. Probably sponsored by Kleenex, these courses will instruct officers in what to look out for in a cold affected driver. Erratic driving as ever will be key, but as well officers will need to look out for key signs such as a red or runny nose, streaming eyes, a general melancholy appearance and especially a box of tissues on the passenger seat.

Having identified a potential suspect, officers will no doubt have to institute a practical on the spot test as with drink drivers.However, instead of getting the driver to blow by mouth into a machine, here they will be asked to blow their nose in a carefully calibrated tissue provided to Officers only. The amount of mucus will be calculated and if over the level, the driver will be carted off to the nick where a GP will carry out further tests and if positive prosecution will follow.

Clearly these measures will cut down road accidents significantly, but not because of the validity of their use. Rather the fact that if anyone with a cold, or who has had one up to 3 months ago could be a suspect, then it is highly likely that in UK around 90% less accidents will take place as less than 10% of drivers will be legitimately able to take to the roads confident that they are "cold" fit to drive. Indeed groundbreaking research achieved. Let us all salute the University of Wales.

On the other hand, if like me, you already knew that cold symptoms can make you feel lousy and do not seek to drive like a maniac, you may feel that this classic piece of telling us what we already know and legislate for in our general behaviour, is a real waste of time and money.You may also well wonder what other rubbishy research programmes are being carried out day in day out at Universities. I, for one, do not believe the University of Wales is alone in such daft projects for one minute.

However, as I have not sneezed for 10 minutes and feel like being completely outrageous, I shall end here and take my car for a spin round the block as a gesture of defiance. Do join me whenever you feel the urge.


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