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Warning over driving with cold

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Drivers suffering from heavy colds or flu could suffer a massive loss of concentration behind the wheel - putting themselves and other road users at risk of accidents, a study shows.

Test carried out for Halfords found an increase in poor driving among those suffering from cold and flu-like symptoms, raising the risk of a claim on car insurance at the very least.

Reaction times were down, while sudden braking became much more frequent as drivers were less aware of surrounding traffic. Cornering was also shown to be much more erratic, while general driving ability was found to be down by more than 50% - the equivalent of having consumed four double whiskies, and a level of driving ability which car insurance firms would expect to cause a crash.

This backs up studies by Cardiff University's Common Cold Unit, showing that people with colds and flu had poor reaction times and alertness, and were a third more likely to hit the kerb. Police have warned that anyone getting behind the wheel with a heavy cold could face prosecution.

Halfords winter driving expert Mark Dolphin said: "We want our customers to stay safe. You shouldn't drive if you are not feeling well. The best place to be when you have flu or a heavy cold is at home, but if you really must go out, get someone else to take you and avoid driving."

© Press Association 2012