The hay fever season usually runs from March to September and symptoms can include sneezing, coughing, a runny or blocked nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears, headache, earache and fatigue. Around one in four people in the country are affected, according to the NHS.
So how can you make sure you’re driving safely when hay fever kicks in?
Check the pollen forecast
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen so check the Met Office pollen forecast first. It provides an early warning, up to five days ahead, of when the pollen count is predicted to be high and can help you to minimise exposure to pollen and ease symptoms.
Make sure you’re fit to drive
Under the rules of The Highway Code, you must be fit to drive your vehicle. Unlike some other health conditions, hay fever does not need to be reported to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). However, you must take responsibility for assessing your own fitness to drive when you are experiencing symptoms. For example, if you are feeling unwell, particularly tired or your eyes are extremely watery, your driving could be impaired and you may wish to consider alternative travel arrangements.
Hay fever medication and driving
It’s a criminal offence to drive while unfit due to drugs. The laws on drug-driving apply to both illegal drugs and legally prescribed or over-the-counter medicines. Ask your GP or pharmacist if you are at all unsure of whether or not to drive.
Never drive if you are taking hay fever medication for the first time, or changing to a different drug. You will need to assess its effect on you before knowing whether you are fit to drive while taking it.
Hay fever on the road
Sometimes, even if you felt fit to drive at the start of your journey, hay fever symptoms can suddenly develop while you are at the wheel. If your eyes start watering, your nose starts running or you experience severe coughing or sneezing, your driving could be impaired. Never try to treat your symptoms while driving. Instead, pull over where it is safe to do so before dealing with the problem and moving on when you feel better.