Medications and Driving

The Effects of Medications and Driving

Medications can sometimes affect the ability to drive. Many prescriptions come with warning labels to avoid use when intending to drive. As we age, we may be required to take more medications. According to statistics in Canada, elder drivers are prescribed almost 5 times as many drugs as an average Canadian. The volume of medication and the interaction of the drugs taken can result in side effects that can have detrimental effects when it comes to driving. They side effects including impairment and distracted driving.

Some medications have side-effects that include, difficulty to stay awake, blurred vision, dizziness and difficulty in concentration which can all lead to potential hazardous driving conditions. Medications such as over the counter antihistamines and decongestants can also affect driving skills.


Medications and their Effects on Driving

According to the Canadian Medical Association, there are medications that drivers need to be aware of before the decide to get behind the wheel.

1. Drivers who take benzodiazepines, especially elder drivers should not drive. Benzodiazepines possess sedative, anti-anxiety, hypnotic and muscle relaxant properties that can cause severe impairment behind the wheel. When mixed with alcohol, the risks are increased.

2. Over the counter antihistamines and products such as motion-sickness products can result in drowsiness and dizziness that can affect your driving skills. Driving should not occur when drivers have taken these types of medications. There are new “non-drowsy” products that are available which also have side effects. Drivers should exercise extreme caution when taking these products for the first time and should not drive if they experience any side effects to these medications.

3. Drivers who take antidepressants or antipsychotic drugs should be monitored and advised not to drive if they exhibit side effects. Once a driver’s status is assessed, those who are symptom-free and use medication for maintenance purposes may be able to drive at a doctor’s recommendation. It is important that drivers communicate with their doctor to ensure they are able to operate a motor vehicle while taking medication.

When taking medication that could affect driving, it is important for drivers to take the necessary precautions. Doctors and pharmacists can provide the necessary information drivers need to determine the effects of medication on driving. Young Drivers of Canada suggests drivers know the risks of the medication they are taking and take the necessary steps to ensure they don’t drive while under the influence of medication and drugs. It is illegal and a criminal offence regardless of the type of drug.

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