09 Feb Prescription and OTC Drugs Can Impair Drivers
In recent years, law enforcement agencies across the country have been cracking down on drunk drivers. With new marijuana legislation sweeping the nation, it looks like another crackdown could be right around the corner for individuals caught driving under the influence of marijuana. But while these are important steps to take in the fight against DUIs and DWIs, and it is extremely important to patrol drivers’ use of alcohol and marijuana, these are not the only drugs that can cause impairment.
When it comes to impaired driving, prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be just as harmful as any illegal drugs – especially if you’re on the receiving end of an accident with an impaired driver.
The Real Dangers of Prescription Drugs
Most of us tend to think that if something comes to us from a doctor, that makes it totally safe. We believe this even if the drugs in question issue clear warnings about engaging in certain activities, such as operating heavy machinery. But did you know that it goes even further than that?
As the FDA points out, even over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be extremely dangerous. According to them, some of the most dangerous OTC drugs when it comes to driving impaired include:
Each of these drugs can cause drowsiness, which can be very dangerous for drivers. While it may seem minor, drowsiness behind the wheel is no laughing matter. As reported by DrowsyDriving,org, driver fatigue accounts for approximately 100,000 car crashes each year. These accidents result in approximately 1,550 deaths and 71,000 injuries annually. So whether you’re driving a car, a motorcycle, or a bus, it’s imperative that your head is clear while you’re behind the wheel.
To protect yourself and others against impaired driving under the influence of OTC or prescription drugs, make sure to follow these few simple rules:
- Read the warning labels. If an OTC drug package says something like “May cause drowsiness,” or, “After taking this drug, be careful when driving or operating machinery,” heed these warnings.
- Read the ingredients lists. Make sure to read the ingredients lists on all OTC medicines, and make note of each active ingredient’s designated use. If any of the ingredients are used as antihistamines, antidiarrheals, or anti-emetics, be on your guard.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure that your doctor knows which drugs you are taking and if you have any preexisting conditions. You never know how drugs may interact with one another, or what effects they may have on your body.
Bear in mind that even if a drug seems harmless, and even if you have taken the drug multiple times without any effects, you can never be too cautious. Today is a new day and you never know how a drug will affect you this time around.
If You’ve Been Injured By An Impaired Driver, Fight Back
All of this is important for injury victims to know, too, because if you’ve been injured in an auto accident, it’s vital not to automatically rule out the possibility of DUI. Even if you don’t smell booze or marijuana on the other driver, it’s still very possible that other drugs may have been involved.
According to CBS News:
- Almost 70% of Americans use prescription drugs
- More than 50% of Americans take two or more prescriptions
- 20% of Americans are using five or more prescription drugs
Even though these drugs are perfectly legal to consume, there isn’t a single prescription out there that doesn’t come with some risk of side effects. Sometimes, these side effects can be serious. This means that anyone who uses a prescription drug, no matter how legal it is, can be at risk of impairment.
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Contact an accident attorney at The Injury Law Firm of South Florida today.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Worker’s Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.