Medicines & road safety

Some medicines can affect your concentration, mood, coordination and reactions, and reduce your ability to drive safely. Alcohol in combination with medications can further impair your fitness to drive. This can happen with medicines prescribed by your doctor and medications bought without a prescription. 

If you take medications and plan to drive, you need to:

Read your medicine labels carefully and obey the directions and warnings – they are there for your protection. If you have thrown out the warning information you can visit NPS Medicinewise website and search on-line for the drug you are taking to see potential side effects. 

Also, make sure you aAsk both your doctor and or pharmacist if medicines you are taking will affect your driving. Do not drive if they are likely to impact your driving. Be especially careful of any new medication, as you may need time to get used to them even if they may not give a specific warning about driving. 

If you are likely to be affected by medicines, take public transport, a taxi, or ask a friend or relative to drive.

Take your medicine exactly as directed.

 

It is illegal to drive, attempt to drive or supervise a learner while affected by drugs. You cannot drive while impaired by any drug, whether it is prescribed by a doctor or over-the-counter medication. These laws apply if you are on a public road or on private property. 

Prescribed and over-the-counter drugs

Some prescription drugs and over-the-counter preparations such as cold and flu tablets can affect your alertness and brain function. They can affect your ability to concentrate, your mood, coordination and reaction times as a driver. For example, the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (2016) estimated that benzodiazepines, which can be prescribed but are associated with dependency and abuse, were present in 10 per cent of deceased drivers and riders killed on Victorian roads between 2011 and 2015.

As there are many types of medicines that can affect driving, it is difficult to list each one separately. It is important that you observe the effects of changes to your medications and ask your doctor or pharmacist about interactions with other drugs that you are taking or considering taking.  

Medicines that affect driving

Do not drive while taking medicines with a warning label that tells you not to drive. 

These medications can affect driving:

  • some painkillers
  • medicines that treat blood pressure, nausea, allergies, inflammation and fungal infections
  • tranquilisers, sedatives and sleeping pills
  • some diet pills
  • some cold and flu medicines.

Warning signs to look out for: 

  • drowsiness
  • aggression
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • light-headedness
  • blurred or double vision
  • shakiness.

How to reduce the risks:

  • don’t drive if you take a medicine that could affect your ability to drive safely
  • don’t stop taking your prescribed medication if your driving is affected – cease driving and talk to your doctor about alternative medication
  • don’t take more or less of the prescribed dose unless recommended by your doctor
  • don’t take another person’s medicine
  • don't consume alcohol with any medication
  • don’t drive if you have missed a dose of medicine that controls symptoms which affect your driving.

 

 

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