Could Your Medicines Affect Your Driving?
by Amy Scholten, MPH
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down," the old song says. Your driving skills could go down too—if you take the wrong medicine at the wrong time. Unfortunately, this happened to Doug. He took a common cold medicine before driving to see a client. He did not know the medicine would make him sleepy. He woke up in his car in a ditch.
Many Are Unaware of Risks
Alcohol and illegal drugs can impair driving. So can certain medicines. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines. This is because some medicines interfere with:
The effects of medicines can vary among people. It may depend on length of use, age, and interaction with other medicines. For instance, older adults process some medicines differently than younger adults. This could cause medicines to affect them more.
Use Caution With These Medications
Medicines that may impair driving may include:
Precautions You Can Take
Here are some tips for being safe with your medicines:
Do not stop taking medicines in order to drive. Talk to your doctor before changing doses or stopping any medicines.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
United States Food and Drug Administration
Canadian Pharmacists Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Driving evaluation in older adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/evaluation/driving-evaluation-in-older-adults. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Driving when you are taking medications. National Highway Traffic Administration website. Available at: https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/medications/index.htm. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Medication and driving. AARP website. Available at: https://www.aarp.org/auto/driver-safety/info-2013/medications-and-driving.html?cmp=RDRCT-9c2109ec-20200402. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Some medications and driving don't mix. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/some-medicines-and-driving-dont-mix. Accessed October 25, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/25/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.
All rights reserved.