YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A recent survey by auto club AAA showed that nearly half of the drivers surveyed said they took a medication within the last 30 days that could impair their driving.
It also showed that many who took medications for depression, pain, or sleep issues were never told by their doctor or pharmacist about the possible impact on driving.
Some of the medications can cause dizziness, sleepiness, fainting. blurred vision, slowed movements and attention problems.
“Our research finds that many drivers are taking one or more potentially impairing medications before getting behind the wheel,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “It is important for medical professionals to offer clear consultation to their patients of the possible risks and ensure they understand them.”
The drugs also included over-the-counter medications as well such as antihistamines and cough medicines. Not all drivers reported having issues with medications they took and every person is different in how they react to a medication.
Antihistamines and cough medicines—many available without a prescription—were most commonly used. However, the proportion of drivers that reported driving after use was highest for those who reported amphetamine use, such as Adderall and Dexedrine, as shown in the table below.
Drivers who said that they were warned by their doctor or pharmacist about the potential effects of a medication on driving were 18% less likely to get behind the wheel.
AAA recommends these safety tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t Underestimate the Risks of Driving after Using Medications—Over the past three decades, society has realized the dangers associated with drunk driving. According to the latest AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, most drivers (94.5%) consider driving after drinking alcohol very or extremely dangerous. But, only 87% feel the same about driving after using potentially impairing medications.
- Be Aware of Your Options—With advice from your doctor or pharmacist, you can successfully treat your medical condition and maintain your ability to drive safely. Options include, but aren’t limited to, timing your doses to avoid times when you need to drive, adjusting how much medication you take, or even exploring alternative medications that treat your symptoms without causing impairment.
- Advocate for Yourself—Become a better advocate for yourself during visits to the doctor, when filling a prescription at the pharmacy, or purchasing over-the-counter medications. AAA recommends that consumers be proactive by asking the doctor or pharmacist how the medications could affect driving ability and how to avoid those risks while treating their medical condition. If the medicine is available over-the-counter, read the warnings, heed them, or consult a pharmacist for advice