When people think about impaired driving, they generally think of the Florida drunk driving accidents that claim so many lives unnecessarily each year. While it is true that alcohol is a major cause of Florida pedestrian accidents and car accidents, drugs are another key problem. Even the simple medications you have in your medicine closet can cause you to have a car accident. Here’s what you need to know:
1) Over the counter does not mean safe. Many over the counter medications – even simple medications intended for back pain or a cold – can leave you feeling groggy and sleepy enough to cause a car accident. Always read the label of any over-the-counter medications you buy. If it says you cannot drive on the medication or if it indicates that the medication will make you sleepy, do not drive while taking it. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations.
2) You have to ask the questions when you get a prescription. When your doctor gives you a new prescription, it is up to you to ask whether it is safe to drive and engage in other regular activities while on the medication. This is also a good time to ask about allergic reactions and possible interactions that you need to be aware of.
3) Your pharmacist can keep you safe on the road. Talk to your pharmacist and consider using one pharmacy exclusively. Many pharmacies today will keep a list of the medications you are using and will automatically help you determine whether any of them could have side effects that could be dangerous behind the wheel.
4) All-natural does not mean safe. Natural supplements and “remedies” are not always FDA approved and many have unlisted or unknown side effects. Just like synthetic products, these supplements can make you feel drowsy or unwell – and can lead you to cause a traffic accident.
5) Even if one medication is safe, watch out for reactions and interactions. Even if none of your medications made you drowsy or unfit for the road, you need to be aware of the fact that medications combined with over the counter products or other prescription medications can create dangerous interactions. Talk to your pharmacist about everything you are taking – including seemingly innocuous vitamins – to ensure you are not setting yourself up for trouble.
6) Expired medications. Check your medicine cabinet regularly and toss out any medications that are past their expiry date. Once expired, some medications may have unusual or unpredictable side effects – ones you don’t want to experience when you’re driving.