People Should Wait to Drive After Suffering a Concussion, Study Shows

The effects of a concussion on driving may linger even after the symptoms of the injury disappear, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Georgia. The study indicates that concussed drivers place themselves and others in danger if they get behind the wheel too soon.

“People who have concussions often have slower reaction times as a result, and do more poorly on tests of thinking skills after their injury than their peers without concussions,” the University of Georgia’s Julianne D. Schmidt, Ph.D., reported. “Our study suggests that complicated driving skills, the kind involving split-second reaction times that could mean the difference between life and death, are the ones that may take the longest to regain after you have a concussion — even when all of your symptoms have resolved.”

A Study of Post-Concussion Drivers

The study group was made up of 28 college students averaging 20 years of age. Half of them had a concussion; the other half did not. They took a simulated driving test as well as a computer-based mental acuity test. These tests took place 48 hours after all concussion symptoms had disappeared (just over two weeks after the injuries had occurred).

Those with concussions were slower in responding by as little as 0.06 second and as much as 1 second. A delay of 0.06 second equates to a loss of three feet for stopping distance. Although this seems minimal, even a split-second delay could mean the difference between striking a pedestrian or a car ahead.

What You Need to Know About Driving After a Concussion

A concussion occurs when the brain is jostled inside the skull due to a blow to the head or body or a fall on a hard surface or object. The jostling can lead to damage and stretching of brain cells, causing chemical changes and temporary loss of normal brain function, especially as it relates to memory and orientation.

Researchers found that the skill level of the concussed participants was similar to driving after drinking. The drivers appeared to have less control of the vehicle, especially when navigating curves. They also swerved more in their lane.

A severe concussion can cause changes in behavior. While most symptoms go away in a few days, they can linger for weeks or even months. Every concussion should be taken seriously, especially if you’ve had one before. Don’t return to normal activity until cleared by a doctor. This includes driving.

Most Common Concussion Symptoms

A concussion may result in a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or a few minutes. You may feel dazed for days or weeks afterward. Symptoms that can occur include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Fatigue

You may recover within a week or two but still have symptoms such as memory problems, headaches, and behavioral changes that may persist for weeks or even months, according to Brain & Life, the consumer journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

How the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin Can Help You

Have you suffered a concussion in an accident that could have been prevented? At the Law Offices of Michael J. Gopin, PLLC, our personal injury attorneys have the skills, experience, and the resources to fight for justice for you. For more than 30 years, we have been working with accident victims to demand full compensation for serious injuries like concussions.

Call now for a free consultation on your case.

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Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting. He received his juris doctorate degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. Michael has successfully handled countless cases of medical malpracticeproduct liabilitypersonal injury, and nursing home negligence. He enjoys helping people “get their lives back in order” by providing high-quality legal representation and compassionate customer service.