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Don’t Underestimate the Effect of a Concussion on Your Driving

Law Offices of James M. Curran

If you’ve been injured in a car crash, you’re likely hesitant to get behind the wheel again once you’re able to. However, you may also fear that the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to overcome your anxiety. That’s a dilemma that many crash victims face. If you suffered a concussion in your crash, however (or in any other kind of accident, like a fall), getting behind the wheel too soon can come with serious risks.

The most noticeable symptoms of a concussion can last for weeks or even longer. These include headaches, dizziness and sensitivity to light and sound. However, symptoms that are less noticeable can continue longer – and they can affect your ability to drive safely.

Comparable to Drunk Driving

In one study, researchers looked at college-age adults and the effect that a concussion had on their driving skills. They used a driving simulator within days after they reported that their concussion symptoms were gone. 

Researchers noted that many of them demonstrated erratic driving. This included not maintaining good control over their “vehicle” and swerving within their lane. Researchers compared what they saw to driving under the influence. The study’s author noted, “This is a pretty large indicator of motor vehicle accident risk…at a time point when they are considered recovered.”

While this was a small study of a specific age group, anyone who has suffered a concussion would be wise not to drive until they stop noticing the symptoms of their concussion. Doctors often have timelines they use to advise people when they can return to work, school or sports after a concussion. However, there’s no definitive timeline when it comes to driving. If you’re anxious to get behind the wheel again (or you need to), it’s a good idea to bring someone along who can honestly evaluate your driving before you go out on your own.

Potential safety risks like these are just one more reason why it’s crucial to seek medical evaluation, which may include some scans if you’ve suffered a head injury — even if you feel fine. Head injuries can have serious short-term as well as long-term consequences. It’s crucial to know how your injuries will affect you before you reach any settlement with an at-fault driver or their insurance company.

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