Can Prescription Medication Cause Impaired Driving Accidents?

Can Prescription Medication Cause Impaired Driving AccidentsAlthough everyone is aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, not as many realize that prescription drugs and driving are not a safe combination, either. For millions of Americans, prescribed medications are a daily part of life – we need them for managing health conditions, for temporary illnesses, or other medical issues.

The downside of prescription drugs, however, is that they can cause a driver side effects and impairment that can lead to serious car crashes or truck accidents. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) calls side effects “adverse reactions,” and they can range from minor to life-threatening.

You might notice, if you have ever been prescribed strong medication, warnings on the bottle like “Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery” or similar verbiage, and “heavy machinery” does include cars and trucks.

Some of the most commonly-reported side effects from consumer pharmaceuticals include:

  • Blurred vision. Certain medications can cause temporary or permanent blurred vision. A driver with blurry vision can fail to see traffic signs, signals, or even miss pedestrians or cyclists in their line of vision.
  • Dizziness. Lightheadedness or dizziness can impair a driver’s perception, which means they should not be behind the wheel. Impaired perception can cause a driver to lose focus or misjudge distances, which increases the risk of rear-end collisions and other types of crashes.
  • Drowsiness. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, putting everyone on the road in danger. As many as 6,000 fatal car crashes happen each year due to fatigued driving.
  • Impaired cognitive ability. Some prescription medications can also cause “brain fog,” which can affect cognitive function. Drivers on certain medicines may have trouble making decisions on the fly, read traffic signals incorrectly, or otherwise act carelessly on the road.
  • Slowed reaction time. Impaired cognitive ability can also include slowed reaction time, which is extremely dangerous when driving a vehicle. The inability to react to other vehicles or objects on the road makes the risk for a car crash skyrocket, as an impaired driver is unable to instinctively react quickly enough to avoid an accident.

Prescription drug side effects can vary, depending on how a person reacts to medication, the type of medication, and what other types of medication a person is taking. Certain herbal supplements or even a small amount of alcohol can interact with prescription medications, making the side effects even stronger.

The state of Maryland considers prescription drugs to be controlled substances, which is why you need a medical professional to prescribe them. These drugs are regulated by the government because they are either dangerous, mind-altering, or addictive. Painkillers especially, like Vicodin or Percocet, can particularly affect the body and brain and make it difficult to operate a vehicle.

Even with a prescription, if a person impaired by medication causes a crash, they can still be charged with driving under the influence.

If you were injured by an impaired driver, the injury attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. can help. We work to hold careless drivers accountable and seek compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation about your case, give our Maryland offices a call today at 410-730-7737 or use our contact form.