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Concussions Can Lead to Increased Car Accident Risks


If you think about concussions in relation to car accidents, you are probably thinking about the ways in which motor vehicle crashes can result in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Certainly, traffic collisions are a leading cause of TBIs and other types of head trauma, At the same time, it is important to know that—regardless of how you suffered a concussion—that concussion could put you at increased risk of a serious car accident even when you think you have recovered. Indeed, according to a study discussed in Everyday Health, even when patients think they have recovered from a concussion and are no longer experiencing symptoms, they “may still be unsafe drivers.”

The following is some more information you need to know about the recent study and concussion recovery.

Drivers Who Are Recovering from Concussions Are Likely to Experience Delayed Reaction Times 

As you may know, anything that results in a delayed reaction time, from prescription medications to sheer drowsiness, can make it more likely that you could be involved in a car crash. You may not react quickly enough when an obstacle or an accident hazard arises, and you may be more likely to run a red light or a stop sign, or to collide into a stopped vehicle in a rear-end collision. Believe it or not, even if you do not have any other symptoms of a concussion but you were diagnosed with one relatively recently, your reaction time could be delayed. That information is contained in the recent study, which was presented at the American Academy of Neurology Sports Concussion Virtual Conference.

According to the article, “drivers recovering from a concussion may have delayed reaction times even when it’s been weeks since their head injury and they appear symptom free.” Dr. Julianne Schmidt, a senior author on the study and an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Georgia, explained that “people who have concussions often have slower reaction times as a result.” Indeed, concussion patients, even when other symptoms have subsided, “do more poorly on tests of thinking skills after their injury than their peers without concussions.” As such, driving skills and driving experience that require “split-second reaction times” that ultimately “could mean the difference between life and death” may not be reaction times that recent concussion patients can handle.

Drivers May Not Be Able to Stop in Time

In the study, the researchers looked specifically at drivers with recently diagnosed concussions and their ability to stop at a traffic signal turning from green to yellow, and their ability to stop quickly for pedestrians in the street. What did the researchers find? Drivers who had been diagnosed with concussions in recent weeks took about 0.24 seconds longer than non-concussion patients to stop at a traffic signal (which is the equivalent of over 15 and a half feet), and concussion patients took 0.6 seconds longer to react when a child ran into the street (which the equivalent of about 3.3 feet).

Previous studies have had findings that support the recent research, including a 2015 study in Accident Analysis and Prevention that identified slower reaction times in concussion patients, and a previous study in Neuropsychology that suggests drivers who recently suffered concussions have a more difficult time identifying road hazards.

Contact a Marietta Car Accident Lawyer 

If you have questions about filing a car accident claim, one of our Marietta car accident lawyers is here to assist you. Contact The Strickland Firm today for more information.


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