Hay Fever season is with us again in all its itchy, eye watering, sneezy summer glory.

GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging sufferers to be extra careful before getting behind the wheel.

It is estimated that hay fever affects 20% of the UK’s population*.

Sunny side up

Symptoms of the seasonal allergy can include sneezing, itchy or watery eyes and a runny nose. All of these are potentially distracting for anyone behind the wheel of a car, compromising the ability to concentrate.

The problem can be exaggerated further by some treatments. The sedative effects can leave a sufferer feeling fatigued, dizzy or groggy.

“The arrival of hay fever can herald weeks of misery for millions,” comments GEM chief executive Neil Worth. “Every sneeze brings a couple of seconds where you won’t be able to concentrate on your driving, while inflamed or itchy eyes reduce the quality of your vision.”

What’s more, disrupted sleep can leave drivers compromised. “It’s also important to recognise that some antihistamine medicines,” says Neil. “These can have a sedative effect. This means they can make you feel tired, lethargic and unable to concentrate, putting you at far higher risk if you attempt to drive.

“That’s why it’s so important to heed any warnings on treatments you use – whether over the counter or prescribed by your doctor. If the drug can make you drowsy, then you must not drive.”

The same road traffic laws apply to drivers taking medicines as to illicit drugs. If your driving is shown to be impaired and you cause a collision, you risk prosecution, a heavy fine and the loss of your licence.


The organisation has created a six-point ‘POLLEN’ plan. This is a simple safety checklist for any driver likely to need a hay fever medicine:

  • Prescription: if a medicine you’re taking may cause drowsiness, don’t drive.
  • Over the counter: it’s not just prescription medicines that can cause drowsiness.
  • Label: check for drowsiness warnings on any medicines you’re taking
  • Look for alternatives: if you need to drive and a particular medicine is making you drowsy, ask about other drugs without these side-effects
  • Enquire: check with your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine could affect your ability to drive. This applies to medicines you can buy over the counter as well as prescription drugs.
  • New drug: be particularly careful if you are using a medicine for the first time.