Medications Can Impair Driving Ability

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers discuss how medicated driving can be very dangerous. Medications like sedatives and prescription pain medicine can cause serious side effects such as drowsiness, slower reaction times, and a lack of mental focus. However, recent research shows that a significant portion of people taking prescription medication are not aware of the impact these drugs can have on their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence of certain medications can impair drivers and increase their risk of being in a car accident.

Many drivers are also not aware that medications like antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and even certain stimulants can also affect one’s driving ability. According to the Medical Director at Plainview Hospital in New York, drivers can be charged with a DUI if a prescription, or over-the-counter medication has impaired their ability to drive.

Research Findings

The study “Many prescription drug users not aware of driving-related risks,” was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Led by the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University, the research team tracked 2013-2014 data from the National Roadside Survey, which asked over 7,400 drivers from 60 different sites across the country about their current medication routine. They found the following results:

  • Approximately 20 percent of respondents said they used a prescription medication that they believe could have affected their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
  • Many respondents said they were not aware of this side effect, even though there were warning labels on the medication and they should have been warned by their doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects.
    • Fourteen percent of respondents taking a sedative said they did not read the label or they had not been warned of the potential risks.
    • Fifteen percent of patients taking a narcotic, 42 percent of patients taking a stimulant, and 37 percent of patients on antidepressants said they did not read the label or they had not been warned of the potential risks.
  • It is not entirely clear if patients were not warned by their physician or pharmacist or if they were told, but forgot.
  • Sleep aids, morphine/codeine, amphetamines, and muscle relaxants were the medications most commonly associated with impaired driving.

Researchers, as well as other physicians including Dr. Mensch, believe that it is the responsibility of doctors and pharmacists to do more to communicate a clear message about potential side effects to patients, especially if they will be getting behind the wheel of a car.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Justice for Victims of Car Accidents

If you have been injured in a car accident involving another driver who was taking prescription medication, contact a Baltimore car accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.