Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

The danger of sneezing at the wheel

November 1, 2011 - 05:02 PM
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Ahh-choo alert. (Photo: Facebook/SneezingWhenDriving)

One news report circulating around the Internet has left me absolutely mystified and deeply afraid to sneeze the next time I'm in the driver's seat.

A 37-year-old Salisbury driver named Brian David Evans was cruising along Route 50 yesterday afternoon when he was overcome by what the local Daily News is calling a "sneezing attack" and crashed the van into an oak tree. The passenger with him died, and Evans now suffers from six broken ribs in the hospital. The story got picked up by the A.P. and has begun floating around a few different area news sources. The original account includes photos of the wreck.

Who among us hasn't been afraid of a powerful road sneeze? I hate the creeping sensation whenever I'm driving, especially if it's on the highway. A Facebook group is devoted to how annoying sneezing while driving is. A sneeze forces you to close your eyes. A sneeze causes a whole host of involuntary reactions in which the driver could, I've always feared, lose control. These reactions usually only last for moments after the sneezing, however, and I've always been fine in the past.

But look at what happened to Evans. More disturbing is the note at the end of the reports that Evans has been charged with "reckless and negligent driving" and more pending investigation. Really? The driving may have been reckless but is Evans culpable for a sneeze? I've tried calling the Maryland State Police for more information on how a sneeze can be a chargeable offense but still haven't received a clear answer. The Daily Mail reports of another car crash that happened three years ago due to a sneeze, but luckily, no one died then.

Let's hope we can all resist our own urges to sneeze in the future if we happen to be at the wheel.

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