Safe drivers may pride themselves on using their turn signals, buckling their seat belts for every trip, and never get behind the wheel after they've had a few drinks.
However, many such drivers are often shocked to learn they may have placing themselves, their passengers, and others on the road at risk simply by taking their daily medications.
Driver Risks and Accident Hazards of Prescription Drug Use
Alcohol and illegal drugs can greatly impair a person’s ability to operate a car, motorcycle, or truck. However, prescription medications may have similarly dangerous side effects—and Florida drivers might have been guilty of driving under the influence without even realizing it.
Even when prescription medications are taken according to a doctor’s instructions, drivers should be aware of the potential side effects of key treatments such as:
- Allergy medications. Millions of people rely on decongestants and antihistamines to treat their seasonal allergy symptoms. Both over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications have the tendency to cause drowsiness, placing drivers at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Blood pressure medications. Any medication that thins the blood may result in dizziness, nausea, fainting, blurred vision, and other effects which could cause a motorist to lose consciousness.
- Painkillers. Illegal use of prescription medications such as opiates is on the rise nationwide. A person addicted to painkillers may have an inability to focus or pay attention, and may not recognize the risks of driving while under the influence of pain medications.
- Sleep aids. Insomnia medications often contain alcohol as a way of encouraging the body to relax. Some sleep aids, such as Ambien, are so powerful they can have an amnesia-like effect, causing sleep-walking sleep-talking, and possibly even sleep-driving.
- Anti-anxiety drugs. Valium, Ativan, and other so called “muscle relaxers” can cloud judgment and cause people to think they're less impaired than they actually are.
- Drug interactions. While one medication may not have any ill effects, it could interact with an ingredient in another drug that is taken at the same time.
- New medications. People can have different reactions to the same medication, so it's important not to drive after taking a prescribed medication for the first time.
People should always err on the side of caution if they're unsure whether they can drive after taking a medication. If someone you love was hurt because of a drugged driver, we can help. Contact one of our experienced injury attorneys today by filling out the quick contact form on this page.