Impaired driving claims thousands of lives every year. Drivers no doubt recognize the dangers of driving after consuming alcohol or cannabis, but consuming other, seemingly less threatening substances also can put drivers in danger, even during times of day when drivers would otherwise think the roads are as safe as possible. Many people recognize that prescription drugs tend to be stronger than over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. That recognition may naturally compel them to be extra cautious before driving after taking prescription meds. The potential side effects of OTC drugs also merits caution on the part of drivers. It’s vital that drivers recognize certain facts about OTC and prescription drugs and keep them in mind before getting behind
the wheel.

The side effects of OTC drugs can be serious.

It’s easy to write off the side effects of medications that can be purchased as easily as a candy bar. However, OTC medications can induce drowsiness, cause nausea, cloud drivers’ judgment, and adversely affect drivers’ hand-eye coordination. Each of those effects can make it dangerous for drivers to get behind the wheel, so it’s imperative that drivers avoid driving if any of the aforementioned symptoms appear.

Some prescription medications have been linked to higher risk of crashing.

Opioids, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and some antidepressants have been associated with increased crash risk. When prescribed such medications, patients should discuss how to approach driving with their physicians.

Mixing medications can impair driving ability.

Medications that do not cause side effects on their own may still prove harmful if mixed with other drugs. Mixing drugs with alcohol also can produce side effects that impair driving ability, even for drivers who do not feel as though they consumed an amount of alcohol that would normally compromise their ability to drive safely.

Recognizing the ways prescription and OTC medications can impair driving ability is a vital component of safe driving.