What type of sneezer are you, and are you safe on the road?


We are driving for seven hours today from Emporia in Virginia, and staying overnight in Kingsland Georgia.

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I’ve been sneezing quite a lot in the car, and this reminded me of something I heard on Sky News a while back. They were running a story about how the British government were advising people not to drive if they had a cold, because of the danger of sneezing. I remember thinking to myself , “There goes the ‘Nanny State ‘ again.” I didn’t get to see the story, which was a pity, because it was probably quite interesting, but I did ask hubby, who sneezes far more than I do, and who also knows the answer to every question I throw at him, “Can you sneeze with your eyes open?” He looked at me as though I’d lost my mind, but after a bit of thought, answered, “No, I don’t think so.” If he’s right, then it’s quite a no-brainer that maybe we shouldn’t be driving and sneezing at the same time. 🙂

I then did a Google search, and found that researchers at Cambridge University in the UK have discovered that blinking when sneezing is a subconscious reaction given by your brain in order to prevent bacteria and debris from making contact with your eyes. Most of us have this eye-closing reflex, and considering that we humans routinely propel ourselves along our roads at high speeds, here’s a sobering thought for the day: Muriel Simmons of the British Allergy Foundation said: “If you sneeze while driving at 70 mph, you will travel 300 feet with your eyes closed.” Wow, doesn’t that thought do something to your sphincters?

Ahh-choo alert. (Photo: Facebook/SneezingWhenDriving)

I was reading an American article by Court Sullivan, staff writer of ‘Points in Case’, stating that according to latest statistics, the cell phone has now been surpassed by a “new #1 cause of traffic accidents: sneezing.” Much of the recent attention to this matter was sparked by a routine traffic accident. An 85-year-old Arizona man was instantly reduced to ten pieces after veering off a steep cliff with no guard rails.

Local police and insurance agents blamed the accident on the man’s lifelong impotence, history of suicide attempts, nasty recent divorce, driving without proper correctional lenses, and talking to a Horoscope line at the time on his cell phone. 😀 The federal government however, had its share of doubts, and forensic experts were able to provide government officials with one crucial discovery: the man had engaged in what is known as a ‘quadruple-sneeze’ just moments before plummeting to his death.” Don’t ask me how they can establish this fact after death. 😕

I have been looking at various sites about sneezing and driving, and it appears that quite a few road accidents have been traced back to sneezing fits. People with a bad case of nasal allergies can have sneezing fits that go on for minutes, and if your eyes are closed whilst this is all going on, the question arises, ” who is watching the road ahead for you?”

I find this all quite worrying, as I’d been thinking that it was only drivers texting and chatting on their cell phones, people eating, drinking and smoking or having heart attacks whilst driving, that I had to be wary of. Now I have to add sneezing to that list. No wonder we often say, “Bless you,” when someone sneezes. We really do need divine protection.

Georgia-based researcher Dr Patti Wood says that you can tell a lot about the type of person you are by the way you sneeze.”Most people have a specific sneezing style that closely matches their personality,” she said.

1. People who trumpet loudly when sneezing tend to be charismatic, influential, and good leaders.

2. Whereas those who make as little noise and fuss as possible are relaxed, calm, loyal, and dependable.

3. People who cover their mouths with tissues tend to be very proper, dignified, and moderate.

4. A fourth type will get the sneeze out of the way as quickly as possible. They tend to be no-nonsense, fast, decisive, and to the point.

What type of sneezer are you? I’m a combination of #2 and #3, depending on whether I can grab a tissue in time or not.

Here are a few interesting facts about sneezing:

Sneezing can be triggered through sudden exposure to bright light, a particularly full stomach, or viral infection.

People sneeze on average 3 times a day.

People sneeze at a stratospheric speed of 650 mph – roughly 85% the speed of sound!

In some Eastern Asia countries such as Japan and Vietnam, it is a cultural belief that if you sneeze, it means somebody is talking behind your back.

Now that I’ve established how dangerous sneezing is, I have to tell you that there is also a danger to you if you suppress a sneeze, Here you will find an interesting article on the subject, by someone called Kate J Chase.

Have a great and sneeze-free day, especially if you’re driving. Chat again soon.

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119 comments on “What type of sneezer are you, and are you safe on the road?

  1. Pingback: On the road with a summer cold « Ramblings of a jerk

  2. What a crazy bunch of stuff about sneezing! I remember my sister had a car accident once and she told my father she had a sneezing fit and ran off the road. In fact she had actually been smoking and had dropped her cigarette and was trying to retrieve it, something she didn’t dare confess to my father!!

    I think I’m the #4 type; get it over with quickly and pretend it never happened.

  3. Yes, Adin. Sneezing is fatal when driving. You shan’t drive when you have a cold. That, and you are just going to worsen your cold, might turn to pneumonia. I’m unfortunately the 4th one. I don’t I’m ever an exaggerated sneezer like some I know.

  4. Pingback: Really DirectTV, Really? « The Ranting Papizilla

  5. I’m the #1 type of sneezer, only because if I try to hold it on or sneeze quietly, I’ll sneeze many more times before I’m done.

    My youngest has the achoo syndrome, as he sneezes every time the sun shines directly into his eyes. It is a real condition, poor kid!

  6. Oh, this is very interesting and informative. Imagine that – sneezing as a road hazard. I was incredulous at first until I read the logic behind it. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to make sneezing an interesting read.

    As for the kind of sneezer that I am, I am not definitely the charismatic type. 🙂 I wonder how the test will fare when combined with others, such as – facial type, lines on the hand. Now, I am being silly. 🙂

  7. I am a combination of 2 & 3 as well and sneeze whenever I look at the sun, for a total of 3 times. I had not met anyone else who sneezed when looking at the sun so decided to ask some of my siblings and two of them do as well. Interesting (ok, at least to me it was)! 🙂

    • Thanks, Inga. Yes, I do get a bit bogged down when something sparks my interest. 🙂 I think you must be in excellent company with great leaders, being a #1 sneezer. 😆

  8. Very interesting! You really looked into this. I know how it is when you first start reading something interesting. 🙂

  9. What a great post! I am a number 1 sneezer and my husband is definitely a number 2, he almost swallows his sneezes. He is a quiet, reserved accountant…and I am not.

  10. My sneezes seem to come in pairs. The kids used to tease me about waiting for the second one. Though cheap perfume can send me into fits. I’ve had to move in restaurants when some ‘lady’ would arrive after showering in some shoddy brand of scent. 😉

  11. I’m a wall shaker as a sneezer and usually have one big burst and that’s it.
    My wife however is a serial sneezer. If she is good for one she is good for six in a row.
    I guess I’m kind of a combo of 1 and 4 on that list.

  12. What a great article!! Playful, but useful.

    Well, I was driving the other day and the sneeze was gathering as I turned the corner so I slowed down, & YUP blinked. But I was going slow. Interesting the blink was to stop bugs entering the eyes. Makes total sense.

    But I do hate sneezing while driving!

  13. I am a SUPER safe driver I am SOOOOOO Careful. But I have allergies and I will tell you I will sneeze into the crook of my arm or let em fly before I go scavenging for a tissue while I drive… Snot dries people! Which mess would you rather clean up?

  14. I sneeze a *lot* because I have so many allergies (I have atopic syndrome, so I never have the same allergy long enough to pinpoint what it actually is that I’m allergic to – for the last few months it’s been onion juice, but tomorrow it might be something else entirely). Mostly I have a loud, barking sneeze and can sneeze anything up to ten times before the attack stops.

    Fortunately I don’t drive!

  15. I don’t think I’ve ever sneezed while driving… I am a number 1 so it would be very disconcerting if I had to “let one rip” 😉

  16. This post reminded me about a sales rep I worked with many years ago who rear ended another vehicle and blamed his momentary lapse in concentration on a sneeze. The boss did not buy it and he found himself in deep trouble.
    My son always used to start sneezing when he emerged from his man cave in the mornings and came into the kitchen. Now I know it was the bright light that triggered the sneezing not the imaginary drafts he thought he could feel!

  17. in the car, get it over quickly, in the ‘wrong’ setting I try to suppress or do it quietly, at home – loud and free – so i’m a situational sneezer

  18. I know a charming young lady whose sneezes every time she is subjected to strong perfumes, such as those around cosmetics counters and, just walking past candle and bath goody shops in shoppping malls 😉

  19. Fortunately I can usually feel a sneeze a good 45-50 seconds out so if driving I try and get safe (pull over or slow way down if possible),but man,it seems as I get older,my sneezes may be sloer to hit,but they het in 3’s and like a typhoon,LOL!

  20. Like you I’d say I’m a combination of 2 and 3 Sylvia. The nanny state comment still stands mind you. We’re all treated like kids to the point where people are no longer taking personal responsibility for anything. Arrrgh! Great post Sylvia. 🙂

  21. “instantly reduced to ten pieces” that is an interesting mental image.. 😀

  22. This is a very intriguing post indeed, oh dear! Sir is a bit of a sneezer and every time it happens he behaves as though it was the nascent to the end of his life….”Oh great there it goes,” he says, “The whole head is filling up now…Ope, I can’t breathe…”

    I find that I don’t often sneeze, but when it does happen, sometimes I sound like a loud, exotic bird, and I usually have a tissue afoot, and often the incident is fast over and done with rather instantly and hardly noticed (apart from the terror of any poor un-guarded passerby to be barraged by the sudden caterwauling din, who undergoes an involuntary high jump, very impressive at that, and instantly developes an Einstein hairdo, all as they are walking along minding their own business, poor things…).

    Thankfully I do not stop breathing and suffer concrete heads like Sir. That car accident there is quite sad and provides much to mull over… Safe driving to you! And sneezie-free! Cheers,

    Autumn Jade

    • quite sad, I meant to write**. And P.S. Excellent post as always! Hope you enjoy your overnight stay in Georgia. Seen any snow in Georgia as you’ve been lumbering through??

      Smiling Toad

      • No snow here in Georgia; in fact it seems very warm after the freezing temperatures we’d been experiencing in New Jersey. I shall travel in flip flops tomorrow, instead of socks and boots. 🙂

      • Oh my goodness! I do apologise for causing such an uproar in your otherwise sane and peaceful household. I humbly beg the forgiveness of your esteemed cats, and hope that by now, their eyes have returned to their sockets, and their ears have perked up once again. 🙂

    • You are too funny, AJ. 😆 You’ve created such a bizarre scenario in my mind, that I doubt I will sleep a wink tonight, and if I do manage to nod off, I’ll probably have nightmares with exotic birds sporting Einstein hairdos, and waving tissues, as they sneeze outrageously, whilst gasping for breath and doing the high jump. 😀

      • My dear lass, being barraged with that fantastic imagery you have just penned, I am ever so grateful I was not imbibing of my lime-water right now, or I fear I would have inhaled it and suffered a screeching exotic-bird sneezing fit of some sort- the cats would have been highly disturbed. Your comment took me by surprise indeed, TOO funny. If you could hear how I laughed, you would also be fearful. Let us say, something between a bellicose hog’s snorts and a terrified horse’s whinny. Is it always so terrifying? No, but this time it was and the cats ended up being highly disturbed, with flattened ears and bulbouse marble eyes, after all…myriad grins,

        Autumn Jade

  23. I guess I’m type #4 – and I sneeze very seldom … maybe 30 times per year.
    Wonder what is most dangerous while driving … sneeze or talk on the phone ??? Very intresting post.

  24. I clicked on your post just as I was sneezing a good hearty sneeze! I’ve never taken note of how I sneeze so I don’t know what category I am in.

  25. Hi,
    Very interesting post, and good research. I never really gave it much thought, but I can certainly see the dangers lurking there if you sneeze while driving.

  26. Oh my, how interesting! I’m a combination of #1 and #3, like you depending on how quickly I can fetch myself a tissue. The article about suppressing sneezes was very informative too – I’ve forwarded the link to my other half who always swallows his sneezes. I’m petrified now that that is how he will die 😦

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