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Two-thirds suffer car sickness: study

Car sickness is a natural reaction to an unnatural stimulus that cannot be cured as such

Dubai: Car sickness is prevalent among a significant number of passengers and can be controlled by some simple steps like improved driving behaviour, watching the road, moving the seats, among other things, a recent study has revealed.

Stop-start traffic and winding roads inevitably worsen a condition that afflicts two-thirds of passengers at some point, especially children and teenagers, and is made worse by sitting in the back, head down playing video games or watching movies, the study discovered.

In a new research carried out by Ford with the help of motion sickness experts, passengers who stared at screens for the duration of a short journey fell ill after an average of just 10 minutes.

“Car sickness can turn an eagerly awaited family trip into a nightmare, with mum and dad nervously looking over their shoulders and fearing the worst,” said Eike Schmidt, research engineer at the Ford Research and Innovation Centre, in Aachen, Germany.

Yawning and perspiring are warning signs for a condition that is caused by mismatches between the signals the brain receives from the eyes and from the organs of balance, in the ear.

Babies don’t get car sick. This only comes when we start walking. Pets are affected though, and incredibly, even goldfish suffer from motion sickness, a phenomenon observed by sailors.

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“Car sickness is a complex problem. It is a natural reaction to an unnatural stimulus that cannot be cured as such. But we can look to alleviate the symptoms,” said Prof. Dr. Jelte Bos, of TNO, Perceptual and Cognitive Systems, Soesterberg, in the Netherlands.

In the initial testing the study found that when screens were mounted higher, and the road ahead could be seen on either side, volunteers were less likely to feel sick.

“For many drivers who think their child has a problem with car sickness it might simply be that their child has a problem with their driving,” added Prof. Bos, who has worked on a device that shows when behaviour behind the wheel could affect sickness-prone passengers.

“Adopting a smoother driving style goes a long way towards reducing feelings of nausea — and it reduces fuel costs too.”


Steps to ease car sickness

• Move to the middle in the back seats, or preferably the front, to see the road ahead

• Drive smoothly and where possible avoid sudden braking, harsh acceleration, potholes

• Distract sufferers — even a family singalong could help

• Drink cola, eat ginger biscuits, but avoid coffee

• Use a pillow or head support to keep your head as still as possible

• Operate air-conditioner to keep fresh air circulating