Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 4th November 2023

Can Sneezing While Driving Land You A Hefty Fine And Penalty Points?

Image by Luisella Planeta LOVE PEACE 💛💙 from Pixabay
Image by Luisella Planeta LOVE PEACE 💛💙 from Pixabay
There's a legal surprise in the United Kingdom that could make drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel if they feel a sneeze coming on. Believe it or not, sneezing while driving could have you facing a hefty fine in this part of the world.

The Legality of Sneezes
In the UK, drivers are expected to be in full control of their vehicles at all times. Anything that significantly reduces your ability to do so could potentially be subject to a fine. This includes the mere act of sneezing.

Dominic Wyatt, from the International Drivers Association, explains:
"Under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, drivers are legally responsible for being fully in control of their vehicle. This extends to any activity that may divert your attention or cause physical disruptions, such as sneezing."

Unforeseen Consequences of a Sneeze
The logic here is simple. Sneezing can cause your eyes to close involuntarily, temporarily impairing your vision. Add in the violent jerky motion that can accompany a particularly aggressive sneeze, and it's understandable why this could be considered distracting, and potentially dangerous while driving.

As Dominic Wyatt puts it:
"It's about the potential consequences. Studies have shown that sneezing can cause your eyes to close for up to three seconds. At 70mph, a car can travel up to 103 meters in that time. That's a lot of distance to be blind on the road."

Understanding the Fine
Drivers can face fines between £100 and £1,000 if they are deemed to not be in full control of their vehicle. While sneezing alone is unlikely to result in such a hefty fine, it could still contribute to one if it results in an accident or a near miss. Here are some key points to note:

The level of the fine is discretionary and is determined by the traffic officer or court.

Not having control of the car due to sneezing could be considered a 'negligence' charge.

The fine may be elevated if the sneezing resulted in an accident or other traffic offense, such as speeding due to loss of control.

Protect Yourself from Unwanted Fines
Avoiding fines related to sneezing while driving may seem like a tricky situation. However, there are some tips from our expert, Dominic Wyatt, to help manage potential sneezes on the road:

Preparation: If you are feeling unwell or know that you are prone to sneezing, it might be best to avoid driving.

Control your vehicle: Always keep your vehicle under control and be prepared for a sneeze; reduce speed if you feel one coming on.

Pull Over: If possible and safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road to let out the sneeze.

Proper attention to these small yet significant aspects can prevent a sudden sneeze from putting a dent in your wallet. Remember, driving safely is not just about sticking to the rules of the road, but also about ensuring we are medically fit and able to drive without undue disruption.

Thus, the oddly intriguing case of sneezing penalties uniquely highlights the UK's law's attention to minutiae. Sometimes, it really is the smallest things that make the biggest difference, especially when it's about staying safe on the road.