Can you pass out while driving?

I’ve been driving for years, but I recently fainted and that makes me nervous to get behind the wheel. It only happened once when I was very tired, but I’m terrified that I could lose consciousness in my car. Is that possible?

Sara Brody · Updated on
Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent.
I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with your health. The good news is that while you technically can pass out while driving, even people who experience fainting spells are usually safe to drive.
Fainting is fairly common and affects up to 4/10 people at least once in their lives. If the issue is a “common faint” or “vasovagal syncope”—meaning that you did not experience a prolonged blackout, confusion after the event, incomplete recovery, or tongue biting—you do not need to report your faint to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
Here are some conditions that can cause fainting:
  • A common faint (NMS) can occur as a result of fear, severe pain or emotional distress, extreme exercise, prolonged standing (especially in the heat), or while wearing a tight collar that constricts the neck
  • Orthostatic hypotension—a fall of blood pressure upon standing up—can occur and cause fainting due to blood pressure medication, an illness that causes a lack of fluids in the body, or a neurological disease like Parkinson’s
  • Cardiac syncope can occur due to an underlying heart problem and cause fainting
  • Seizures and strokes can also cause fainting and would be considered more serious conditions than a “simple faint”
So, if you only fainted once when you were very tired, it’s unlikely to be a serious condition that impairs your driving. Be sure to only take the wheel when you’re feeling alert and awake. And since driving is always a risk, no matter how healthy you are, you’ll want to make sure you have the best
car insurance
for your needs.
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