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Driving Under the Influence of Medication

road safety, safe driving, drugs, prescription medication

Nearly all drivers know the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. Drinking can severely impair drivers and is a leading cause of traffic-related injuries and deaths. Driving under the influence of medication can be just as dangerous. But most drivers don’t realize that some prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause impairment similar to alcohol. That means these drivers may not even realize when medication is affecting their ability to control a vehicle.

Wine, beer and liquor all cause driver impairment by weakening vision, muscle control, balance and reaction time. Prescription pain medications, for example, can have similar effects, and warnings are typically printed on the bottle. But other prescription and non-prescription drugs can cause impairment, too. Determining whether the drugs you take are among those is important for your safety, the safety of your passengers and the welfare of everyone on the road. helps drivers to determine how drugs and herbal supplements interact with each other, and how their side effects can compromise safety on the road. Simply type the name of the drug or drugs you’re taking into the confidential online tool. The website reveals information about the drug in four areas: medication interactions, food interactions, driver warnings and other drug facts. is a resource of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which aims to improve safety and well being through research and education.

road safety, safe driving, drugs, prescription medication
Image credit: Lotherius on Flickr

It probably comes as no surprise to drivers that pain medications like Oxycodone can cause impairment to drivers and increase the risk of a crash. But even common drugs like Sudafed also come with warnings. Pseudoephedrine, its active ingredient, relieves nasal stuffiness, but it also can cause drowsiness and fatigue, blurred vision and weakness. Those side effects are bad enough on their own. But if the driver is already tired, the effects can be even more dangerous.

Stay safe on the road by looking up your medications on A little research takes only a few minutes, and it could save your life or someone else’s. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. By broadening our knowledge of the effects of driving under the influence of medication – and using sound judgement when getting behind the wheel – we’ll all contribute to increased safety on our roadways.

Nick Palermo View All

Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.

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