A guide to driving safely while on medication

Timothy Alcock October 6, 2011 0

From colds to ongoing health problems like high blood pressure and arthritis, hundreds of thousands of people take medication within the UK everyday. While most medication won’t affect your driving ability, some over the counter remedies and prescription drugs contain hidden side effects which can have a direct effect on your ability to drive safely.

From blurred vision to drowsiness, there are a number of side effects you should be aware of before you get behind the wheel to make even the shortest journey. It might only take a minute to read the info provided with your medication but that minute could save you from driving dangerously while under the influence of medication. 

When checking the small print of your medication you need to watch out for any side effects which can make you drowsy – this is particularly common in cold remedies and hayfever tablets. Driving while drowsy or tired can significantly reduce your reaction times and means you’re up to four times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Anti-depressants are another aspect of medication that can have a serious impact on your driving ability. Although almost three million people in the UK suffer from depression, there is a strong link between anti-depressants and impaired driving ability.

“There is considerable evidence that older generation anti-depressant drugs and tranquilisers have an adverse effect on driving and can increase the risk of accidents but not enough work has been done on the relationship between the newer forms of medication and driving,” commented the AA’s Edmund King.

While most conditions can be treated and won’t have any impact on your driving, there are some illnesses where you should seriously consider avoiding driving. Epilepsy is one of the most serious conditions that can affect driving. For many sufferers there’s a strong chance they could have a fit when driving – if this happens, it’s highly likely that you will lose your license.

While you can drive if you’re diagnosed with epilepsy, if you’re diagnosed with narcolepsy you must stop driving straight away. Other key illnesses which can affect your ability to drive include chronic neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease, and angina.