Many Tennessee drivers understand that not only is taking drugs, like cocaine, heroine and marijuana, illegal, but they also affect driving ability. Not as many drivers, however, realize that prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs can negatively affect driving as well. As a result, drugged driving can result in a DUI and/or serious accidents.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 20% of impaired drivers tested positive for opioid drugs. In fact, opioid use can double the chances of getting into a crash due to reported side effects such as diminished judgment, drowsiness and impaired thinking. These are also side effects of other prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines, which also cause dizziness.
The two age groups that tend to drive under the influence of drugs more often are teenagers and older adults. Teens have less experience on the road, and they often practice more risky driving behavior, such as speeding. Many older adults take multiple medications, are not able to break them down as fast and may take the incorrect dosage, which leads to intoxicated driving.
Along with opioids and benzodiazepines, the FDA lists additional prescription and OTC drugs that can negatively affect driving ability. These include:
- Antiepileptic and antipsychotic drugs
- Codeine-containing meds
- Stimulants such as diet and caffeine pills
- Sleeping pills and muscle relaxants
- Certain allergy and cold remedies, such as antihistamines
The FDA warns that the effects of some drugs, such as sleeping pills, can linger into the next morning. Combining any of these meds, or taking in conjunction with alcohol, also intensifies their effects.