Most people understand that drinking alcohol affects driving skills and can result in an accident as well as legal trouble. However, not as many are aware of how certain medications can affect the ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Both prescription and over-the-counter medications have side effects that may affect one’s driving and increase the chances of getting in an accident. Knowing which ones have these detrimental effects may help people make different decisions before getting behind the wheel.
Side effects that can interfere with driving ability
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration discusses that not all medications interfere with driving. However, there are certain prescription and OTC drugs that do. Some of the side effects that make driving more dangerous include:
- Blurred vision
- Slowed responses and movement
- Difficulty focusing
Some of the prescription drugs that affect driving ability are for anxiety, depression, seizures, pain, sleep issues and muscle tightness. Common over-the-counter meds include cold medication, anti-diarrheal meds, allergy products, motion sickness remedies, diet pills and drugs that increase energy levels.
Medications and older individuals
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals who are 65 years of age and older are at even higher risk of getting into a car crash. One of the reasons is that many elderly people take more than one medication, and their combined effects can be dangerous. The aging process also causes the body to metabolize medications differently than in younger people.
To help decrease accident risk, elderly individuals should make a list of all their medications, including OTC ones, and have a discussion with their physician about their side effects and how they interact with each other. If possible, the doctor may be able to change the dosages or substitute medications that have fewer effects.