Drugs at the wheels

Drugs at the wheels

Winter time is flu and cold time. Often, these diseases are “cured” by over-the-counter medicines from the pharmacy itself, as many employees are less likely to report sick as often as in previous years due to a job loss. Oftentimes, such headache remedies as flu, insomnia, or fatigue remedies are “self-prescribed”. But also means to increase performance and reduce stress are increasingly common. In fact, “medicines at the wheel” are much more common in practice than the grip on the glass or the “alcohol at the wheel”. 

In influenza, about every fifth driver is under the influence of drug use on the road – and usually without being aware of the dangers of limited ability to concentrate and the threat of loss of control. For every fourth accident, drugs play a relevant role.

Effects of taking medication – a first finding

Some medications have the same effect on human perception and responsiveness as alcohol. About 15 to 20 percent of all medications currently on the market affect responsiveness. A considerable number of common medicines therefore limit the ability to drive motor vehicles. Especially at the beginning of a treatment with a new drug is expected to noticeable impairment of their own performance. These can manifest as fatigue, dizziness, malaise or reaction inertia. When these symptoms occur, the person concerned is fundamentally unable to actively participate in motorized road traffic. 

It is particularly dangerous that many drivers feel that they are still “fit” for driving after taking medicines despite their reduced ability to drive – a very deceptive feeling, because even after taking a harmless cough suppressant, the reaction can be up to 20 percent slower, and so on For example, some cold and cough preparations contain codeine and alcohol, which have a considerable impact on driving ability, but not all medicines pose a risk in terms of traffic safety: Some medicines provide the necessary driving skills – such as special preparations For cardiovascular patients or for diabetics, however, there are great dangers such as narcotics, sleeping pills, hypoallergenics and sedatives as well as strong preparations for fever, pain and inflammation also affect the psyche. These are mainly the so-called Benzodiazepines, which are contained in sleep and sedatives. 

Thus, even with proper dosage of the usual for the reduction of anxiety, irritability, detuning and tension Benzodiazepine in the first hours after ingestion performance can be expected, which correspond to an influence of 0.5 – 0.8 per thousand alcohol. But also the use of “light” and other psychotropic drugs, such as neuroleptics or antidepressants may affect the current driving ability.The interfering effect of these drugs often sounds complete only after 24 hours, even in preparations for hypertension or nausea, for eye drops with effect on the Pupil and some antibiotics, the ability to drive restricted.

Possible effects of common drugs on driving ability:

  • Strong painkillers and anesthetics -Impairment of reactivity, dizziness 
  • Sleep and sedative – deterioration of reactivity, drowsiness even the day after ingestion, habituation with long-term use;
  • Cough medicine (with codeine) – drowsiness, headache, at higher doses of vision disorders
  • Antihypertensive remedies – tiredness, dizziness, blurred vision
  • Remedy for nausea, motion sickness – headache, dizziness, severe fatigue (therefore no intake for drivers);
  • Medicines for eye diseases – here, a possible effect on the vision must be determined by intensive consultation (especially remedies for glaucoma, means for pupil dilation)
  • Anesthesia and local anesthetics – insomnia, dizziness, headache, lack of concentration aggressiveness;
  • Caffeine and stimulating means – insomnia, restlessness, headache, irritability with withdrawal symptoms.

Fatigue, headache and muscle aches

In that regard, the leaflet should always be read and consulted with the doctor or pharmacist, whether the ability to drive is impaired and how many hours after taking one again allowed to drive a vehicle in traffic. The consumption of medically prescribed medi- cines or a trip to an anesthesia may also require the existence of a driving inactivity. By the way, caution is also advised when a drug is discontinued after use, especially after prolonged ingestion. Then, a temporary inability to drive may also occur.

Legal consequences of a car drive under the influence of drugs

The consequences of driving under the influence of drugs can be manifold: if you are unable to drive, you risk a misdemeanor or even the conviction for a criminal offense. The consequences here can be high fines, fines, driving license withdrawal and even imprisonment. At the same time, the administrative authority (driving license office), for instance because of abnormalities in the area of alcohol, drugs or medication, may have doubts as to the suitability as a driver and may evade the driving license by administrative means. Consequence then possibly a medical-psychological examination (MPU), a renewed driving test or also the driving license withdrawn in the long run. In addition, the loss of insurance coverage may be threatened.