Medication Interactions Can Cause Traffic Accidents
Check your medication side effects at RoadwiseRX.com before you get behind the wheel to reduce the risk of an accident
Most people are well aware of the dangers of driving drunk or while high on illegal drugs. However, the risks involved in driving while taking one or more medications are not considered nearly as often—despite the fact that certain medications can also cause or contribute to serious car accidents.
In fact, according to a survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, only 28 percent of drivers consider the use of prescription drugs before driving a “very serious threat.” By contrast, 66 percent of drivers surveyed thought alcohol was a very serious threat and 56 percent thought illegal drugs were.
This attitude is especially troubling because the use of prescription medications is on the rise in our country:
- The number of prescriptions dispensed per person per year has increased by 60 percent since the 1990s
- Almost 50 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug per month and about 33 percent take two or more
- About 66 percent of seniors take 5 or more medications daily
Many commonly taken medications—both prescription and over-the-counter—can cause side effects that interfere with the ability to drive safely:
- Benzodiazepines (for anxiety or sleep disorders) and opiates can both cause drowsiness and are the two types of medications most commonly involved in serious or fatal car accidents.
- Some antidepressants increase the risk of a car accident by 40 percent.
- Diphenhydramine (found in over-the-counter cold medicine) has been shown to impair a driver’s ability to follow at a safe distance, maintain speed, and stay in their lane almost as much as having a BAC of 0.08.
Mixing medications can also cause side effects that could compromise driver safety. For example, mixing Acetaminophen (an ingredient in many over-the-counter pain medications) and Crestor (a common cholesterol medication) can cause trouble staying awake as well as difficulty maintaining vehicle control.
Visit RoadwiseRX.com Before You Drive
AAA has launched new tool that can help drivers understand the potential impact of their medications on their driving abilities. The tool, which can be found at roadwiseRX.com, will show you the side effects commonly associated with most prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, supplements, and even foods. You can even type in multiple different medications at once to see potential drug interactions.
Of course, different people have different reactions to medications. The most important thing is to be aware of how you typically feel after taking a medication and avoid driving if there is any concern of impairment.
If you do get into a car accident, remember to call an experienced car accident injury attorney like Fernando D. Vargas right away for help with your personal injury claim.