Can Prescription Medications Impair Drivers?

drive under the influence of prescription medicationsWhile most people associate impaired driving with alcohol, they may not realize that certain commonly prescribed medications can dangerously impair their ability to drive. Some researchers believe those who drive under the influence of prescription drugs often don’t realize or understand the side effects that negatively affect their driving (which is why it’s so important to read the warning labels on each prescription).

Read Prescription Labels Very Carefully Before Driving

Types of medication that most people don’t realize can cause impairments include:

  • Anti-depressants
  • Anxiety medications
  • Pain relievers
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Cough suppressants

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications are also capable of impairing drivers, especially when combined with other prescription medications or alcohol. For example, antihistamines or certain medications used to treat motion sickness can cause extreme drowsiness in some people. Typically, drugged drivers experience the following:

  • Loss of judgement
  • Distorted visual perception
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Poor muscle coordination
  • Loss of self-control
  • Altered mood
  • Decreased reasoning abilities

While the number of deaths caused by drunk driving has decreased over the years, the number of fatal accidents caused by drugged driving has increased. According to a 2014 survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), almost one in every four drivers tested positive for a drug that negatively impacted their driving ability. Worse, more than half of motorists who are arrested for drunk driving have either an illegal or legal drugs mixed in their system.

Drivers Under the Influence of Prescription Medications Must Be Held Accountable

Some drivers assume that just because a prescription medication is legal means that they can drive after taking it. In most cases involving prescription drugs, the user is unaware of the negative effects on their driving ability until it’s too late and they’ve caused a car accident. However, just because a person doesn’t mean to be negligent does not mean he or she is not responsible for any injuries that they cause.

The Law Offices of Aaron Allison is a personal injury law firm that fights for those injured in drunk or drugged driving accidents in Austin, Texas.



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