Driving under the influence isn’t restricted to illegal drug use and drunk driving; a doctor’s slip won’t get drivers out of DUI citation.
“Sixty-six percent of U.S. adults are on at least one prescription medication, but just because a drug is legal doesn’t mean that it’s safe to use while driving.”
Drugs Outpacing Alcohol as Top Cause of Car AccidentsRead More
There’s a reason over the counter (OTC) and off-the-shelf (OTS) medications have warnings and clauses instructing users not to drive or operate machinery after taking the drug.
Recent data suggests that drugs have overtaken alcohol as a top cause of car crashes. And while many of these drug-related crashes involve illegal drugs, not all do.
Keep reading to learn more about how prescription and OTC medications can affect driving abilities and how to stay safe while driving.
Common Prescription Drugs With Driving-Impairing Side-Effects
There are some prescriptions (such as opiates) on which patients should avoid driving and other high-risk activities for the entire duration of their treatment. However, there are some medications that users will be able to drive on once their bodies become acclimated to the drug. A doctor will be able to explain the typical time it takes for someone to adjust to a new drug. You should avoid driving and other activities until you know precisely how the drug will affect you.
CBD vs. Marijuana: What Texas Drivers Need to KnowRead More
- Opiates: Pain medications such as morphine or codeine can cause sleepiness, dizziness, disorientation, and distracting exhilaration.
- Antidepressants: Antidepressants can also cause fatigue, especially SSRI depressants, which are known to cause insomnia.
- Anti-Anxiety Meds: When you begin taking Xanax or other anti-anxiety medications, you could be unusually tired, unable to concentrate, dizzy, and uncoordinated. You could also experience vision issues and headaches.
- Anti-Hypertensives: Once patients begin taking a blood pressure medication, their blood pressure usually drastically improves. Unfortunately, exhaustion is a common side effect and can influence your ability to drive safely.
Over the Counter and Off-the-Shelf Drugs
Medications don’t need to be prescription strength to affect your driving ability. There are several common medications that individuals can purchase in any pharmacy aisle that can also cause driving impairments.
- Antihistamines: Not all antihistamine medications are marked as non-drowsy, but sleepiness is a common side effect of antihistamines.
- Cold Medications: Medications that say “AM” shouldn’t make you drowsy, but they can still cloud your mind or even make you over-alert.
- Sleep Aids: When prescribed by a doctor, patients tend to get the full run-down on the dos and don’ts of their sleep aid. But there are also over-the-counter sleep aids, and many users don’t realize how long these drugs stay in the system.
- Stimulants: Caffeine pills, diet pills, and other stimulants are also drugs. And while many drivers consume large quantities of coffee in an attempt to stay alert, too much of any stimulant can make drivers jumpy and unable to concentrate.
How Drugs (Legal and Illegal) Affect Driving Ability
Studies suggest that prescription drug use is closely related to a significant increase in car crashes. So it comes as no surprise that the FDA warns that some prescription and over-the-counter medications can interact with your body in ways that make it unsafe to drive.
The Drugged Driving Epidemic: How Can You Protect Yourself?Read More
Some of the key areas affected by drug use (whether legal or illegal) are:
- Concentration: Inability to focus, excitability, or euphoria
- Alertness: Fatigue, loss of consciousness, or hyperactivity
- Reaction Time: Decreased movement and processing, as well as poor judgment
- Vision: Blurred vision, dry eyes, or watering eyes
- Debilitations: Nausea, headaches, weakness, or dizziness
Tips for Staying Safe on the Road While Taking the Medications You Need
Keep these tips in mind to keep you and others safe while taking prescription and OTC drugs.
- Avoid driving until you know the effect a new drug will have on you physically and mentally.
- Follow all instructions and warnings on the medicine’s label.
- Talk to your doctor about common side-effects of your medications.
- Play it safe. Ride to work with a coworker, call a cab, or take the bus instead of driving.
- Only stop, start, or adjust your dosage at the direction of your doctor.
- Inform your doctor of any other medicines you take in order to avoid negative interactions between multiple drug types.
Crosley Law Fights for Victims of Drugged Driving Crashes
Request Your Free Consultation
Even the safest drivers still suffer car crashes. After all, you can only control what you can control and do your best to minimize your risk.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drugged-driving crash, please contact Crosley Law today. Our skilled attorneys have experience identifying all the potential causes of a crash — even when it’s something as subtle as drowsiness or poor judgment caused by a basic cold medication.
Chihuri, S. & Li, G. (20 October, 2017). Use of prescription opioids and motor vehicle crashes: A meta-analysis. Accident Analysis & Prevention, vol 109, 123-131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2017.10.004
FDA. (26 September, 2018). Some medications and driving don’t mix. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/some-medications-and-driving-dont-mix
Health Policy Institute. (13 February, 2019). Prescription drugs. Georgetown University Institute for Healthcare Research and Policy. Retrieved from https://hpi.georgetown.edu/rxdrugs/
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
Parking Lot Crashes: Who Has the Right of Way (and Who Is to Blame)?Apr 06, 2021
All parking lot car accidents are minor fender benders, right? Think again. Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users are often injured in parking lot crashes when a distracted or reckless driver breaks the rules. Unfortunately, many people don’t take parking lot safety seriously—or mistakenly think that Texas’ rules of the road don’t apply in parking garages and lots. Our injury lawyers have helped many crash […]
How Do I Prepare for an “Independent Medical Examination?”Apr 05, 2021
If you’re involved in a car accident lawsuit or another personal injury claim, the insurance company might schedule an “independent medical examination” (IME) for you. However, these exams are rarely independent or neutral. Instead, the adjuster is scheduling your exam with a doctor they trust—one whose reports consistently favor the insurer and might weaken your […]
Who Is at Fault in a T-Bone Car Accident?Mar 22, 2021
T-bone car accidents are dramatic, dangerous, and common — which is why they are so often depicted in films and television. Yet, while these crashes can make for good entertainment, no one ever wants to experience one in real life. Common injuries from T-bone accidents include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, crushed and amputated limbs, […]
Car Accidents and Broken Bones: How Much Is My Case Worth?Mar 02, 2021
Broken bones are common during car accidents. The forces during a collision can shatter bones in our back, legs, pelvis, and other areas, causing pain and severe limitations. And while some broken bones heal relatively quickly, these injuries can also become complicated and lead to permanent disability. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers helps […]
Can I Get Compensation for a Knee Injury from a Car Accident?Mar 02, 2021
Knee injuries from car accidents are one of the most common reasons people file personal injury lawsuits. There are three main reasons for this: Our knees are especially susceptible to injuries in a car accident because they rest underneath or against the dashboard. Knee injuries are often more severe than other injuries and can seriously impact our mobility. Knee injuries often worsen over time and can even turn into life-altering […]
Will a Back Surgery Affect My Car Accident Settlement?Feb 11, 2021
Car accident injuries that require surgery often increase the chances of securing a settlement in a personal injury claim. In particular, back surgeries not only increase the chances of securing a car accident settlement, but also significantly improve the average monetary value of the settlement. To be clear, we’re not advocating for you or our […]
What’s Causing My Hip Pain After a Car AccidentFeb 11, 2021
Injuries sustained to your hip in a car accident can be debilitating. Even if you feel fine after a crash, it’s important not to ignore minor aches and pains that may arise hours, days or even weeks later because they potentially could have a severe impact on both your overall long-term health and a personal […]
How Do I Get a Texas Accident Report?Feb 11, 2021
There are a lot of things that you need to do after your car accident. In addition to getting immediate medical attention, you also need to call the police and file a report. A Texas peace officer crash report will be filled out by the responding officer, and it’s important to get a copy of […]
What Does an Insurance Adjuster Do?Feb 11, 2021
If you’ve been in a car accident, you know how overwhelming and traumatic the process can be. Recovering from your injuries and dealing with lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages is a lot to deal with. Making sure that you do everything right to file a successful claim can seem impossible. […]
Who Sideswiped Who? Here’s How to Find Out and What to DoFeb 11, 2021
If you’ve been driving for any length of time, chances are that you’ve seen another driver drift out of their lane. Sometimes they’re able to course-correct, but when the side of their vehicle makes contact with the side of another car, that’s called a sideswipe crash. When a sideswipe crash (also called a “blind spot […]
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you’ve been injured, fill out the form for a free consultation, or call 210-LAW-3000.