The dangers of drunk driving have been well publicized and documented. However, the dangers posed by so-called drugged driving are rarely discussed. When discussing this important safety topic, it’s important to note that drugged driving not only involves cases in which a driver is found to have illegal drugs in his or her system, but also cases involving prescription and even over-the-counter medications.
During the past 30 days, it’s estimated that 50 percent of Americans took one or more prescription drugs. In many cases, these drugs have adverse side-effects when taken on their own or in combination with other drugs or substances. For example, both prescription and over-the-counter medications have been linked to causing drivers to experience fatigue and confusion.
Despite the numerous and serious side effects readily associated with prescription and over-the-counter medications, few drivers appear to realize the dangers such medications pose while operating a motor vehicle. In fact, the American Automobile Association reports that only 25 percent of drivers believe drugged driving involving prescription drugs is a “very serious threat,” to public safety.
Any substance, regardless of whether it’s legal or illegal, that inhibits a driver’s ability to think clearly, stay alert and maintain control of a vehicle is dangerous. National data shows that more than 46 percent of fatal drugged driving accidents involve prescription drugs. Drivers who take any type of prescription or over-the-counter medication would be wise to exercise caution and know the drug’s side effects prior to getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Source: AAA.com, “Medication and Driving: Learn the Facts,” March 31, 2015