What the cold does to your driving

Every office has one: The hero.

You know the guy -- he's the one who won't stay home when he's sick, after all it's only the common cold. No, he wants to show everyone how dedicated he is... so he comes to work, where he can get everyone else sick.

But spreading germs at work isn't the only bit of carelessness from the "hero," because he could also be putting himself and everyone around him at risk before he even gets to the office.

The common cold can delay reaction times so much that driving while sick is like driving after four beers, according to a new study.

Researchers compared the reaction times of sick people to those of healthy people, and found those with colds -- even a mild one -- reacted 36 milliseconds slower than healthy people.

Compare that to the 15-millisecond delay we see in people just over the legal limit for driving, and you can see just how unsafe it is.

And that wasn't all.

People with the common cold also had a reduction in alertness of more than a third and tended to tailgate to boot.

Closer distances, slower reaction times -- next thing you know, that sniffle can turn into a fender-bender. And in some cases, it could lead to something even worse -- because the study also finds that a simple sneeze can force your eyes off the road for up to 3 seconds at a time.

If you think that's not enough time to get into an accident, close your eyes now and count to three (but do it at your desk, not behind the wheel).

The best way to beat the common cold is with a strong immune system. But if you happen to catch one anyway, the best way to recover isn't to go to work and get everyone else sick or to take to the roads and risk an accident.

It's to stay home, take your vitamins and get some rest. And don't be a hero.