If you choose not to get the COVID vaccine, you could be putting yourself at greater risk for a car crash.
According to a study published this month in The American Journal of Medicine, that may be the case. In 2021, Canadian researchers looked at the encrypted government-held records of over 11 million adults and found that 16% of them hadn’t received the COVID vaccine.
The study found that unvaccinated people are 72% more likely to be involved in a severe traffic crash resulting in hospitalization than vaccinated people. The risk of car crashes is increased for people with sleep apnea, researchers found, but it’s only about half the elevated risk seen in drivers who abuse alcohol.
According to the authors, unvaccinated drivers are more likely to get into car crashes, which not only imposes risks on other people but also negates engineering advances that have made cars safer.
Although it may not seem related, the authors theorize that those who resist public health recommendations such as skipping a COVID vaccine are more likely to neglect other basic safety guidelines, like road safety.
According to the authors, there are many potential reasons why some people choose to ignore traffic regulations. These include mistrust of government, belief in freedom, misconceptions about daily risks, faith in natural protection, antipathy toward regulation, poverty, misinformation and personal beliefs
The findings are significant enough that primary care doctors should consider counseling unvaccinated patients on traffic safety—and insurance companies might base changes to insurance policies on vaccination data, the authors suggest.
The authors also mentioned that first responders should take precautions to protect themselves from COVID when responding to traffic crashes. It’s more probable that a driver is unvaccinated than vaccinated, so first responders need to be aware of this scenario.
“The findings suggest that unvaccinated adults need to be careful indoors with other people and outside with surrounding traffic,” the authors concluded.
Researchers have looked at the relationship between people’s actions and their vaccine status before. For example, a study done in 2021 with young adults found that those who reported driving recklessly were also more likely to say they had skipped getting the flu shot.The study analyzed the survey responses of over 100,000 Canadians.