Prescription drugs and driving impairment

| Jun 23, 2021 | Car Accidents

While most warnings about driving impairment often highlight the hazards of drunk or drugged driving, drivers can also suffer dramatic side effects from both prescription and over-the-counter medications. These medications can lead to drowsiness, slowed reaction times, dulled perceptions, blurred vision and cognitive impairment.

Many legally prescribed medications and strong over-the-counter drugs can cause driver impairment. For example, numerous categories of medications can have serious side effects that could easily impact a driver’s ability to safely navigate traffic on busy Texas roads. The medications can include:

  • Antidepressants: Many medications used to treat depression can have a sedating effect, making individuals feel sluggish and dulling their perceptions.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: Many medications used to treat anxiety, such as Valium, are designed to calm the brain and nerves. Unfortunately, this can slow reaction times in drivers.
  • Antihistamines: Used to relieve allergy symptoms, antihistamines can also slow a driver’s reaction times and impair coordination.
  • Decongestants: Whether prescribed or purchased over-the-counter, cold medication can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness in drivers.
  • Sleep aids: Even when taken the previous evening, these medications can have long-lasting effects causing dulled perceptions and slowed reaction times in drivers the following morning.
  • Hydrocodone and Oxycodone: Medications designed to relieve pain, such as Vicodin and Percocet, contain these components that can cause dramatic impairment similar to the effects of morphine and codeine.

While these medications might be necessary, individuals must realize the dangerous side effects they can have. In fact, even though a certain medication might not contain a warning about driving or operating heavy machinery, drivers should be aware of the changes it might cause in them, personally.

Impaired driving, whether it is due to drugs, alcohol or medication, can lead to devastating collisions with severe consequences. Depending on the vehicles involved, catastrophic injuries and serious property damage could occur.