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How prescription meds can impair driving

On Behalf of | Oct 18, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents, Wrongful Death

Medications help you recover, but they can cause effects that disrupt your daily activities. Some can cause dizziness, drowsiness and fainting, conditions that would make driving risky. Alarmingly, a number of drivers continue to get behind the wheel despite taking what are known as potentially driver impairing (PDI) medications.

What are PDI medications?

While impaired driving is typically associated with alcohol and recreational drugs, even prescription meds can have the same effect. Potentially driver impairing (PDI) medications refer to drugs that can impair driving performance due to their side effects. Taking these medications may elevate the risk of a car accident.

PDI medications include those that people typically take to treat common medical conditions such as hypertension, stroke, allergies, sleep apnea and depression. These include:

  • Antihistamines: Treats allergic rhinitis and the common cold. It has a sedative effect that could induce a higher level of drowsiness. It may also cause blurred vision.
  • Benzodiazepines: Helps make anxiety and related mental conditions more manageable. To accomplish this, it induces a sedative and hypnotic effect. Among other side effects are confusion, dizziness and muscle weakness.
  • Muscle relaxants: Treats muscle spasms and pain. Apart from drowsiness, it can also cause serious side effects like fainting, blurred vision and hallucinations.

The side effects of prescription medication can cloud your judgment and hinder your ability to operate the vehicle properly. Without knowing it, you may cause a car accident that not only results in personal injury but also has a devastating impact on others.

Despite these factors, a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that an alarming number of drivers continue to get behind the wheel after taking impairing medications.

Knowing medication side effects matters

If you’ve been taking a certain medication for a while, you’re likely to be aware of its effects on your body. This may not be the case with any new prescriptions that your body is not yet familiar with. Moreover, combining different drugs can sometimes result in amplified effects.

Due to their hectic work schedules, pharmacists or medical providers may not have the time to inform you about the potential effects of your new medication. Therefore, being proactive in managing your health and well-being is crucial.

When given a new prescription, talk to your physician about how it might impact your ability to perform tasks such as driving. Take note of how long the effects may last and the optimal time to take them. If certain drugs are interfering with your daily activities, such as driving, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor about alternatives.