Did you know that 17.3% of brain injuries are caused by motor-vehicle or traffic-related accidents? Many of those accidents are caused by impaired drivers. When you think of impaired driving, you likely think of driving under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, such as marijuana, rather than prescription and over-the-counter drugs. However, more and more drivers are getting into accidents because of the impact their medications have on their driving. Whether it’s doctors not telling patients about the side effects of their medications or patients not understanding the effect these drugs can have on their driving, many drivers are unaware of the dangers everyday medications have when they get behind the wheel.
Antidepressants, muscle relaxants and pain medications are just some of the prescription medications which can cause drivers to be impaired while behind the wheel. Even over-the-counter medications like antihistamines that say, “may cause drowsiness” on the bottle make it unsafe to drive.
Perhaps patients believe that medications prescribed by their doctors or sold on shelves of the local pharmacy are safe and would never imagine that they could greatly impact driving. However, combining these everyday medications with driving can be hazardous. Before you get behind the wheel, check your medications to ensure the side effects will not affect your driving in any way. Impaired driving doesn’t just mean driving while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs – it also includes prescription and over-the-counter medications.
A new tool, Roadside RX, courtesy of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, is designed to help drivers learn more about their medications and how they can affect them while on the roads. Simply type in your medications – over-the-counter and prescribed – and find out how they will impact your skills on the road. The tool also lets users see food interactions and information about the medication, which you may not be aware of. Before you get behind the wheel, err on the side of caution and check the side effects of your medications.