These are the Medications That Most Affect Driving

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Although you feel behind the wheel almost every day, driving is not an easy task, since it requires your full attention and 100% of your abilities to be able to react to any unforeseen event. Surely you have seen on more than one occasion how the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) emphasizes the consumption of alcohol and drugs at the wheel, due to the adverse effects they cause when driving, but you should know that there are certain medications that also affect dangerously to drive.

As revealed by the General Council of Official Associations of Pharmacists of Spain, approximately 25% of the medicines that exist in the market, corresponding to about 5,700, affect in some way our ability to drive. Of all of them, some do not need a prescription, so they can be highly dangerous for people who tend to self-medicate.

These drugs can cause certain effects in drivers, which are very dangerous if they occur on the road: drowsiness, dizziness, fainting, double vision, blurred vision, difficulty concentrating, feeling dizzy, decreased reflexes, lack of coordination or feeling unsteady. Here are the medications that most affect driving:

AnxiolyticsAnxiolytics often cause drowsiness, decreased attention, and decreased ability to react.
AntidepressantsAntidepressants often cause nervousness, anxiety, drowsiness, impaired coordination, and blurred vision.
HypnoticsHypnotic medications cause drowsiness, decreased attention, and decreased ability to react.
Flu and coldThese drugs often cause drowsiness.
AnalgesicsAlthough pain relievers help relieve pain, they can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and decreased ability to concentrate and react.
Anti-migraineAnti-migraine medications cause drowsiness, dizziness, and weakness.
Anti-allergyThese drugs often cause drowsiness and blurred vision.
AntipsychoticsAntipsychotics can cause drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness, and agitation.
Antiepileptic drugsThese medications often cause drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, blurred vision, and a feeling of weakness.
AntiparkinsoniansAntiparkinson drugs can cause drowsiness, sudden bouts of sleep, spasms, confusion, and blurred vision.
Medicines against diabetesCan cause hypoglycemia
AntihistaminesThese medications can make you drowsy and can reduce the driver’s ability to react.

If you want to see how a specific drug affects driving cars which are bought from Auto For Trade, you can access this link, where from page 24 you will find all drugs according to their commercial name.

How do you know if you can drive?

It is best not to use any of the medications mentioned above if you are going to drive. However, you must bear in mind that since 2007 the medicine boxes include a pictogram that informs about whether the drug is suitable for driving. It is a red equilateral triangle with the vertex facing up and the white background, which has a black car inside and a legend that says: “Driving: see leaflet”. The purpose of this pictogram is to alert the user to read the information in the package insert on how the medicine affects driving. It should be noted that the pictogram at no time prohibits driving, it only warns of its use.

A box of medicines with the pictogram | Photo: Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products

Tips for Driving if you Take Medication

If you have no choice but to drive after taking a drug, take note of the recommendations given by the General Council of the Colleges of Pharmacists of Spain:

  • You should always follow the instructions of the doctor or pharmacist when using the drug, so you should not self-medicate.
  • When a drug affects you the most is at the beginning of treatment or when changing a dose. Therefore, it is recommended that during the first days you do not drive, since you do not know how your body will react and if you will be able to carry a vehicle in good conditions.
  • You should inform the healthcare professional that your intention is to drive while taking this medicine, so that they can look, whenever possible, for an alternative that affects you less when driving.
  • Never mix alcohol and medications, as side effects can be increased.
  • You should pay special attention if you take several medications at the same time.
  • Generally, medications help to solve psycho physical problems, but this can affect your safety on the road so, if you consider that you are not well to drive, it is best to leave the car at home and opt for another type of transport.