Driving Under the Influence

Many driving schools teach the dangers of drinking and driving with some also mentioning the effects and dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana. But how many drivers realize that driving under legally prescribed drugs and some herbal medications can be just as dangerous?

Diving is a skill, actually it is a very complex skill determined by changes in our physical, emotional and mental conditions all of which can be impaired by the use of drugs.

Over-the-counter medications such as Antihistamines cause the brain to slow down and could impair reaction time, coordination and cause drowsiness. Decongestants can also cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administrations estimates 100,000 traffic crashes and approximately 1,500 deaths are caused annually by people becoming drowsy while driving with many of these people using over-the -counter medications.

Some drivers say they feel more alert and confident when driving under certain medications. The reality is drugs can fool you into believing you are in control of your driving when in fact, you are driving impaired.

This is also true with prescribed medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, OxyContin and Roxicodone. Although these drugs have their benefits when prescribed by a doctor and taken as prescribed, patients prescribed these medications should always read the label and information that usually comes with these medications. All of these medications recommend that a person does not operate a motor vehicle or machinery when taking the drug.

Today, some of the drugs dangerous to driving a motor vehicle are called Herbal Medications, or Supplements. These herbal or naturopathic remedies are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration and will often, in fine print, disclose the FDA does not certify the product. These products are produced to inform you of the desired affects, not the actual effects the medication could have on the human body.

Currently with the expansion of the Internet, people can order herbal medications that are legal in the majority of states however, closely related to illegal drugs. Herbal medications such as K2, Salvia, and Kava-Kava cause hallucinations something a driver does not want to experience when behind the wheel. Other legal supplements sold under a variety of names mimic the effects of dangerous drugs such as Ecstasy and Cocaine. The use of any of these drugs will impair the skills necessary to drive a vehicle.

It is important to avoid harming yourself and others when driving, talk with your physician and pharmacist and learn all you can about the medication you are taking especially the side effects, what drugs are considered safe to combine and how any drugs affect your driving skills.

Never doctor yourself by taking over-the-counter medications or herbal drugs. It is always best to seek professional help from your physician. Remember, a safe driver is a smart driver and a smart driver knows better than to drive under the influence of any drug.

The National Safety Commission works to increase awareness of important safety issues, particularly those that deal with highway and traffic safety information. Our mission is to make consumers more vigilant and understand that “safety is no accident,” through education and outreach programs. We promote driver education and training through our Driver Safety Blogs.