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Drugged-up drivers are a prescription for disaster

  • Eight out of ten motorists admit to taking prescription drugs
  • 54% drive after popping pills despite knowing they're a danger on the roads
  • Side effects include fatigue, slow reactions, blurred vision, tremors and dizziness

Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most people do daily and after a new report exposes Brits as a nation of habitual pill poppers, motorists are being warned that driving under the influence of certain prescription or over-the-counter drugs could risk their lives and land them in hot water with the law.

The survey of 3,000 motorists by leading automotive service brand Autoglass®, reveals that more than eight out of ten (86%) admit to taking prescribed drugs  such as temazepam, diazepam and pain-killer Cocodamol, with sixty percent (60%) confessing they then get behind the wheel of their car without a second thought.

When it comes to over-the-counter medication, certain cold and flu remedies,  anti histamines and sleeping tablets are the most popular and worryingly a quarter (25%) take more than the recommended dose. After getting dosed-up, seventy three per cent (73%) then hit the roads.

Driving while unfit through drugs, whether illegal, prescribed or over-the-counter is an offence, which carries penalties including six months in prison, a £5,000 fine and a twelve month driving ban. However more than half (54%) of motorists reveal that despite understanding that popping pills could mean they're a danger on the roads, they still drive.

Fatigue, drowsiness, slow reactions, blurred vision, tremors and dizziness are just some of the serious side-effects which those questioned admit to experiencing after taking their chosen pill and although many medications warn against possible effects, half (49%) of drivers don't even bother to read the label. A quarter (23%) on medication also admit to having a sneaky alcoholic drink at lunchtime, before getting in the car. 

To help keep them safe on the roads and understand the dangers of taking medication and driving, more than eight out of ten (83%) say they want more information warning against possible side effects and advice about motoring on medication. 

TV's Dr Rosemary Leonard, comments: "The effects from medication can last for hours or even days and can vary from person to person; a driver may not even notice that they have been impaired until it is too late. A person's driving ability can also be affected by the medical condition for which they're taking the medicine. With cold and flu season fast approaching, more people will be turning to over-the-counter remedies in the coming months."

"Taking alcohol and drugs together is even worse as their side effects may combine and impairment can be multiplied. It's vital that anybody taking medication always reads the label first, it's also essential that motorists feel fit to drive before getting into the car. If they experience any side-effects or feel unwell then they must not consider driving until the symptoms have passed."

Matthew Mycock, managing director at Autoglass® adds: "Driving after taking any kind of medication is a real road safety problem and our survey shows that motorists are unclear on the guidelines and lacking in knowledge on the dangers this could cause."

"By understanding how different drugs and remedies can affect a person's driving ability, the roads would be a much safer place. To give motorists the help and advice they need, we have created an information checklist on our website which includes tips and guidance on motoring while medicated."

For more information take a look at our medical advice checklist.


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