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1 in 4 prescriptions are for medications that can impair driving
Impaired driving is when your body or emotions have been affected in a way that makes driving unsafe.
Impaired driving can be caused by tiredness, illness, alcohol, drugs, or distractions. It is usually temporary. Symptoms of impairment include blurred vision, feeling sleepy, slow reactions and dizziness.
Many prescribed medications (some purchased over-the-counter), and all recreational drugs such as alcohol, cannabis, methamphetamine or MDMA can cause impairment.
Your chances of having an accident are increased when driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications.
You can be charged even if the substance you took was prescribed by a GP or supplied by a pharmacist. Drivers are required to ensure they are safe to drive at all times.
It’s important you talk with your GP or pharmacist about how the medications they have given you might affect your driving. Tell them honestly about anything else you are taking (e.g. alcohol, cannabis or over-the-counter medications) because sometimes combining medications or combining them with recreational drugs can make the problem much worse.
The types of medications your GP or pharmacist might give you that may impair your driving include:
Sometimes medications for psychosis, epilepsy, addiction, nausea and anxiety can also impair your driving.
It can be almost impossible to make a judgement about how impaired you are if you are already impaired.
However, if you are having trouble thinking or speaking clearly, you are probably impaired. If there is any doubt, choose not to drive.
Other signs of impairment are:
You can reduce risk by:
Stop driving if you feel impaired, call someone to pick you up – or take a bus or taxi.
Don’t stop taking medication because you want to be okay to drive. Your medication is important to your health.
Some people say that taking recreational drugs like cannabis, methamphetamine or MDMA makes them better drivers.
However a significant body of research shows drug use impacts negatively on reaction times.
You may drive more slowly and cautiously, due to cannabis use, but that is not enough to compensate for your slowed reaction time. Combining even small amounts of cannabis with small amounts of alcohol can be especially dangerous because each heightens the other’s effects.
If someone is affected by alcohol and illicit drugs or prescription medications when driving, they are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash