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Here’s how medication can affect road safety

Published on: 08 March 2017

Here’s how medication can affect road safety

We all know that every tablet we consume has side-effects of its own which may affect how our bodies function on a daily basis, but regardless, medication plays an important role in maintaining a healthy and pain free lifestyle.

Driving is a difficult skill to perfect, which demands mental alertness, clear vision, physical coordination and the ability to react applicably.  What most South Africans don’t know is that driving under the influence of medication can be hazardous to the lives of many.

Take note of the side-effects of any medication you take (particularly before driving), as it may save a life - if not yours, then the life of someone's mother, father, sister or brother. Medication keeps you healthy but nothing matters more than your safety.

Here’s how driving under the influence of medication could affect your ability to drive safely:

  • Being shaky
    Car pedals, gears and a steering wheel are the most important (user controlled) parts of a vehicle. Driving with shaky hands and/or legs may result in uncontrolled acceleration of the car or cause you to swerve out of your lane. This may cause a collision, resulting in injuries and even death.
  • Fatigue
    Feeling tired is something everyone experiences, especially if you’re stuck in traffic. However, painkillers, or other forms of medication, may also cause you to feel drowsy. Fatigue on the road often results in accidents because drivers tend to lose concentration.
  • Dizziness
    Taking mild painkillers could cause dizziness and may be a great source of danger as they could blur your vision, resulting in your not paying attention to the road and its obstacles – resulting in a decrease in your ability to drive steadily.
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
    Medication can make you think you’re going crazy, especially on the road. For example: you may see other cars moving very fast towards you or notice non-existent objects in front of your car, which may force you to step on the brakes without thinking twice. Taking such impulsive action can risk your safety and cause accidents.
  • Aggressiveness
    Taking medication can make one feel extremely emotional to a point where it causes aggression – which could lead to road rage.

    Your aggressive moves on the road could result in you being attacked by the driver you provoke. Cutting in front of vehicles or tailing someone who pushed ahead of you may sound trivial, but many drivers have been victims of such aggression - with some cases resulting in unintended deaths or disabilities because some drivers could carry firearms or other harmful weapons.

    It is essential to avoid unnecessary arguments or physical fights for your own safety.
  • Impaired judgement
    Impaired judgement usually occurs when an individual consumes drugs, alcohol and/or is on a diet etc.

    Having good judgement helps you to assess risks on the road and avoid hazards, as well as making on-the-spot and/or emergency decisions.

    Impaired judgement can compromise your safety by exposing you, your passengers and other drivers to the risk of a serious accident.

Taking into consideration the side-effects of the medication you consume is of high importance, as this may play a role in keeping you safe on the road. It is essential to avoid driving after consuming medication, or rather take mild medication which will not affect your driving. Other precautions you could take are: making sure that you have eaten before taking your medication, waiting an hour or two after medication consumption before getting on the road and NEVER drinking medication with anything else but water.

If you’re under the influence of medication/drugs and you’re being stopped by the police, the look in your eyes can give you away. Have a look at the video below:

Sources:
- https://www.drugs.com/sfx/
- http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/manage-drug-side-efects#1
- https://www.arrivealive.co.za/Medicine-Medication-and-Road-Safety
- https://www.agingcare.com/articles/hallucinations-delusions-and-paranoia-151513.htm