My Greatest Fear #31: Causing a Car Accident with a Sneeze

I’m surprised the human race has survived despite the bodily function we call sneezing.

When you sneeze, you project your innards at 100 mph into the surrounding air. We’re talking about a force so strong that it’s physically impossible to keep your eyes open when it happens. How are there not more sneezing-related injuries?

And I’m just talking normal, walking around, doing-your-business type sneezes. It’s a whole other matter when you’re driving a car. Your operating heavy machinery despite your inner capacity to create gale-force winds at any moment.

I’ll be honest: I like a good sneeze. In private, that is. When I’m around people, I’ll stifle the sneeze or reduce it to a whimper. But in private? I let it rip. I like responding to my body’s needs, so if it needs to shake things up inside my nose, I’m all for it.

So when I’m driving alone, I’ll let it rip. If you watched me in slow motion, I’m guessing my entire body convulses while my head propels forward then backwards, my eyes shutting involuntarily. And I’m driving! None of those things make for safe driving.

Thus I’m genuinely surprised that more car accidents don’t happen due to sneezes, and I’m worried that one day a fateful sneeze will send my car careening off a cliff on the way to work (never mind that there are no cliffs in St. Louis).

Do you sneeze while driving? Are you concerned about the risks involved? Have you ever hurt yourself or someone else by sneezing?


11 Responses to “My Greatest Fear #31: Causing a Car Accident with a Sneeze”

  1. Elaine says:

    I live in constant fear of this. Seriously. I have a very stupid sneeze – it’s quiet. And I’m not stifling it because I’m embarassed. I sneeze the same way in private as I do in public. But, because it’s such a small, quiet sneeze – it takes a minimum of 7 sneezes for me each round of sneezing. And there’s at least one round each day – sometimes more.

    I honestly feel like I’m putting myself and others at risk when I sneeze while driving. It is terrifying – and I’m not sure why this is #31 on your list, and not #1. (Unless the fears are in no particular order, then I understand.)

    It’s so bad that my co-workers sent me this last week: https://media-cache-lt0.pinterest.com/upload/80220437083116324_oW8NFDhI_c.jpg

    That’s prompting me to finally see an allergist, who will no doubt stick me with needles (my #2 fear). :/

    • Elaine says:

      Sidenote – I have hurt myself while sneezing… Sammy Sosa style. After having a bad cold (with no fewer than 100 sneezes, I’m sure), I noticed that it hurt along my ribs when I would breathein or laugh.

      I went to the Dr. Turns out, my sneezes (the quiet ones!) had ripped some of the cartilage that connects rib cages (foggy on the specifics there). Ridiculous.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Elaine–I’m so glad I’m not alone in this fear! The “My Greatest Fear” series is in no particular order, so this one is a big deal even though it’s #31.

      So…not to scare you even more about seeing the allergist, but you might want to read this: https://jameystegmaier.com/2010/12/attack-of-the-allergies/

      • Elaine says:

        Oh geez. I can’t do that. I got to “20 needles just under the skin on my arm, all in a row” … and yelped in panic at work. I knew that it involved needles… but I didn’t imagine 20. I didn’t even imagine 10! Not ok.

  2. Melanie says:

    I agree. Sneezes are dangerous. And while there aren’t cliffs in St. Louis, there are lots of bridges. And a vast fast flowing river.

  3. Ansley says:

    I actually MUST stifle. I have to hold my nose while sneezing because it hurts my nose and causes nosebleeds when I sneeze and allow it to pass through my nose. The only explanation I have is that, when I had my sinus surgery in college, I forgot how to sneeze. Or maybe the surgeon screwed up. I don’t know.

    All I know is that every time I feel the need to sneeze, I freak out if I have my hands full because I’m scared I won’t get to hold my nose in time.

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