The study also says that around 500,000 drivers have lost control of their vehicles while sneezing, and around double that number have had to pull to the side of the road to wait for sneezing fits to subside. Kwik-Fit's solution? Have your air-conditioning serviced, of course.
While making sure that your car's cabin air filter is good shape might help keep your allergies in check, we'd recommend just staying off the road if you're suffering that badly. Hit the jump for the full press release.
With the peak pollen season upon us, new research reveals that during the months of May and June, hay fever sufferers will drive 9,300,000 miles with their eyes shut*.
Kwik-Fit's study shows that hay fever can have serious implications on road safety. Over half a million motorists admitted that they have lost control of their vehicle because of sneezing, and 2.6 million have looked away from the road while they searched for a tissue. One million motorists have had to pull over to the roadside until a bout of sneezing has stopped.
Kwik-Fit's research shows that 28% of motorists suffer from hay fever, with the most severely affected sneezing at least once a minute. As it's impossible to keep your eyes open when sneezing, Kwik-Fit estimates that at average traffic speeds these sneezes result in hay fever sufferers driving nine million miles 'blind' during May and June.
Allergy experts have recently predicted that the number of people with hay fever may triple over the next 20 years. Indeed, Kwik-Fit's study demonstrates that younger motorists are more likely to fall victim to hay fever, with almost one in two motorists aged 18-24 suffering from the condition, compared to just 16% of motorists aged 65 and over.
A car's air conditioning system can provide a vital defence against pollen. However, to be effective, the system needs to be serviced regularly and have the pollen filter changed at least once a year, or even more frequently if the car is often parked under trees.
"All too often, air conditioning units are ignored from one summer to the next," says David White, customer services director at Kwik-Fit, "but air con is most efficient if it's used frequently and serviced regularly.
"That service should include changing the pollen filter as this is the first line of defence for hay fever sufferers. As the weather gets warmer motorists quickly realise that their air con isn't functioning as well as it could. But if you're a hay fever sufferer with a fit of the sneezes, the incentive to have your system serviced is even greater – the benefits aren't to be sniffed at."
Kwik-Fit offers air conditioning servicing including cleaning, re-gassing and pollen filter replacement for just £69 at over 650 centres across the UK. Appointments are not usually required.