Are you taking prescription medication? Beware of the impact it could have on your driving

Are you taking prescription medication? Beware of the impact it could have on your driving
A ‘hidden epidemic of drug-driving is at large in Britain’, according to road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart.

A survey of 2,000 motorists found 30% do not know what the maximum dose of a prescription medication is before it will impact their driving.

Meanwhile, a further 31% of those surveyed do not know how long they should wait before driving after taking their medication.

A further 22% of drivers admitted they rarely (14%) or never (8%) check if their medication will impact their ability to drive safely.

With hay fever season impacting millions of people across the UK, and many others using over-the-counter medications - many could be putting themselves in danger.

The NHS estimates that around 10 million Brits suffer from hay fever. However, pharmacists warn that drivers taking excessive doses can lead to trouble with the police and danger to other road users.

What's more, as the drugs in question are not illicit substances, drivers are often unaware of the impact they are having on ability to use a vehicle.

Worryingly, only 28% of those surveyed said they were unlikely to avoid driving after taking over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines or cold and flu remedies, that come with a warning not to use heavy equipment or machinery.

Under UK law, it’s an offence to drive while unfit because of drug use – whether it is from a legal or illegal substance.

Following the release of the survey results, IAM RoadSmart is calling for a review of the prescription process. The charity believes the lack of awareness may have led to an increase of drug-drivers on UK roads.

According to Ministry of Justice’s Criminal Justice System statistics, cases of driving with a specified controlled drug above a certain limit have increased year-on-year, with convictions reaching 27,962 in 2021.

Antony Kildare, CEO at IAM RoadSmart, commented: “When people think of driving while under the influence of drugs, they will probably, quite understandably, think of those who get behind the wheel after taking illicit and recreational substances such as cocaine, cannabis or ecstasy.

“And yet legal drugs that are used for medicinal purposes can often be just as potent, and could profoundly impact a driver’s judgement while behind the wheel.

“However, under the current system, this threat may not be understood – resulting in a lack of awareness of what should be basic considerations, such as maximum dosages or whether the medication will impact their ability to drive.

“We would like to see a new and reformed system which will provide more transparency on how medications can affect a motorist’s ability to drive, and clearly communicate potential risks to motorists.

“We also want drivers to be more aware of how they feel after taking medication for their own safety, so we are urging drivers to be vigilant of any potential symptoms of taking their medication and consider how the side-effects could impair their driving. This may include drowsiness, light-headedness, shakes and dizziness.”

What do you make of the survey results? Will you be more conscious about driving if you have taken prescription or over-the-counter medication? Leave your comments below.

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