Prescription Drugs and Driving Safety

Prescription Drugs and Driving Safety

Prescription Drugs and Driving Safety

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer. There has been a major focus on car accidents and injuries that are caused by people who drive while they are impaired. When people make the decision to drive while impaired, they are placing not only themselves but others at risk too. While there has been a significant focus on people who drive while drunk, people who drive while taking medications or drugs are equally as dangerous. According to information published in a White House Report in 2009 regarding drivers who were killed in car accidents while using medications:

  • 25% tested positive for cannabinoids, such as marijuana.
  • 21% tested positive for narcotics.
  • 18% tested positive for stimulants, such as Ritalin or Adderall.
  • 16% tested positive for a depressant.
  • 20% tested positive for another medication or an unknown drug.

Many people take medications on a regular basis for chronic conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • High Blood Pressure

These conditions often require daily medications to keep the symptoms in check. However, these drugs can have side effects that make it difficult to operate a motor vehicle safely.

A Study: Medications and Driving Safety

A study was recently published in the Journal of Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. Researchers reviewed over twenty studies involving various aspects of prescription drug use and its impact on driving. Some of the medicinal classes they reviewed included:

  • Chronic pain medications, such as Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Oxycontin.
  • Anti-epileptic (anti-seizure) drugs such as Lamotrigine and Keppra.
  • Blood pressure medications such as Enalapril and Atenolol.
  • Anti-depressant medications such as Sertraline and Zoloft.
  • Anxiety medications such as Klonipin and Midazolam.

Based on the results of this study, these medications can have some side effects that might make it unsafe to drive on the road. Some of the side effects include:

  • Possible breakthrough seizures: If people have a seizure while driving, they will lose control of their vehicle. This could lead to an auto accident and numerous traumatic injuries.
  • Respiratory depression: Some of the side effects of anti-anxiety medications include respiratory depression. This could cause someone to stop breathing. If this happens while driving, it could result in wrongful death.
  • Fatigue: The side effects of many of these medications include fatigue. This can make people drowsy and increases the chances of falling asleep behind the wheel.

It is essential for people to understand that they need to take medications as prescribed by their physician. Furthermore, it is imperative for people to talk to their doctor about any side effects. It is also the responsibility of physicians to make sure that their patients are able to carefully manage their medications and their safety behind the wheel.

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Sacramento Car Accident & Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer. Driving while under the influence of drugs can cause serious car accidents. If you have been seriously injured in a crash involving medications, please contact me today. I can be reached at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 and am happy to provide free, friendly legal advice.

I am honored to be a member of California’s Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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Image Sourcing: The photograph at the start of this article can be viewed on The photo has been printed here under the CCo, Creative Commons License.

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