First, some recent, eye-opening facts:
- In the US there are over 276 million registered vehicles with 222 million drivers holding a valid license. Of this number, nearly 43 million are 65 or older. That’s roughly one in every five.
- 40,100 people died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2017 a 1 percent drop from the year before.
- Almost a third of traffic fatalities involve drivers who were impaired by drugs or alcohol, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- According to NHTSA there were 795 fatalities that were drowsy-driving-related in 2017.
Adding Medicines into the Mix
Often people use more than one medicine at a time. The combination of different medicines can cause problems for some people. This is especially true for older adults because they use more medicines than any other age group. Due to changes in the body as people age, older adults are more prone to medicine related problems. The more medicines you use, the greater your risk that your medicines will affect your ability to drive safely.
If someone has a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, he or she will probably feel impaired and know not to get behind the wheel. But many people could be unwittingly taking medications that may slow their coordination and responsiveness or increase fatigue—making it dangerous to drive. The following broad categories of medications can impair the ability to drive:
- Anxiety and depression medications
- Products containing codeine
- Some cold remedies and allergy products, particularly those that help you sleep; decongestants and cough suppressants
- Sleeping aids
- Narcotic pain relievers
- Diet aids
In particular, consumers need to be knowledgeable about the adverse effects of two frequently used medicines – sleeping aids and antihistamines.
It is well known that sleeping aids can cause problems when driving. Pharmacists recommend that patients using