Is Driving with a Concussion Safe?

If you’ve ever had a concussion, you know recovery takes a while. It can be hard to think clearly or perform some routine functions for some time. So what about driving? New research is showing that in many cases, driving after a concussion is a dangerous idea.

Researchers at the University of Georgia have found that concussed drivers show some very erratic driving behaviours that linger well after the initial injury. Using a driving simulator (similar to the one used by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the video below), the team tested reactions to various driving situations, as well as everyday conditions.

Two tests were run and compared. The first was within two days of the injury. They then repeated it when the test subjects said they were no longer feeling the effects of their concussion.

Julianne Schmidt led the study. She noted that concussed drivers in the simulation had shown a number of potentially dangerous driving patterns. “They swerved more within the lane,” she said. “This is a pretty large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk, and this is at a time point when they are considered recovered.”

Some of the reactions in the test were described as being like those of a drunk driver.

If you have suffered a concussion, be very cautious about driving. Depending on the severity of your injury, it may not even be an option for a long time. Always seek advice from medical professionals and get help from your friends and family before you get behind the wheel. You don’t want to put your life and others in danger.

So if you’ve had a concussion or think you’ve suffered one:

  • Get medical treatment
  • Follow your doctor’s orders
  • Rest up and avoid doing any activities that require your full attention (like driving)
  • Monitor your situation and don’t drive until you are absolutely sure it is OK to do so
  • Look to family or friends for help or take the bus or call a taxi for transpiration

And remember, there are services available to help you with your concussion recovery and get you back on track.

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Todd Lucyk
Todd Lucyk joined Slater Vecchio as an articling student in May of 2014, and has been an associate with the firm since being called to the bar in 2015. Todd grew up in White Rock, B.C., and captained Simon Fraser University’s varsity soccer team during his undergraduate studies.