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Taking Medication/Prescription Drugs and Driving

Medicated Driving

Taking Medication/Prescription Drugs and Driving

Sometimes we forget that simple over the counter medications for colds, flu and allergies can have a big impact on our ability to drive safely. These medications alone can make us drowsy and increase the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel. Many times these are medications that we do not take often and they can really surprise our body systems by interacting with our diet and lifestyle and sometimes have a significant impact on a drug's ability to work in the body.

Certain foods, beverages, alcohol, caffeine, and even cigarettes can interact with medicines. This may make them less effective or may cause dangerous side effects or other problems. Even if a medication seems mild, make sure you read the label of anything you take. If a label contains the phrase, "Do not use while operating heavy machinery," don't drive your vehicle.

Here are some quick tips to consider:

  • Check with your doctor to determine what the side effects of a medication might be and what, if anything, you can do to counter them, particularly as they apply to driving. Make sure you discuss with your physician the combination of all of the medication you are taking and what new ones to stay away from.
  • Read all labels and instructions on prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs to determine side effects and their relationship to whether you should drive. Keep in mind that combinations of medicines can magnify their effects beyond the individual warnings. Ask your pharmacist to look for dangerous drug interactions.
  • When you take medicine, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions carefully to obtain the maximum benefit with the least risk. Changes in a medicine's effect due to an interaction with food, alcohol or caffeine can be significant; however, there are individual factors that influence the potential for such variations, like dose, age, weight, sex and overall health.
  • If you are going to try a new medicine, don't try it for the first time right before you drive. Try it in a safe location, like home, and make sure it does not have any adverse effects that may impact your ability to drive safely.