Our Washington roads have become crowded with drivers who are unsafe. Whether it is distracted driving, drowsy driving or impaired driving, cars, trucks and motorcycles are all at risk for serious collisions during every trip. While many people equate impaired driving with drugs or alcohol, it is possible the impairment can be the result of the use of prescription or strong over the counter medications.

While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledges that medication might not specifically affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, some medications have side effects that can disrupt perception and reaction time, including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Other cognitive challenges or inability to focus

Many drivers have difficulty in planning or preparation simply because the side effects are not always consistent. Knowing how a medication, or a combination of medications, affect your ability to drive is crucial. Drivers must be wary of numerous types of prescription and over the counter drugs, including:

  • Opioid pain relief medications
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Cold remedies
  • Anti-allergy medications
  • Sleeping pills

Unfortunately, sleeping pills can stay in a user’s system for several hours after waking up. It is not uncommon for individuals to take a sleep aid the night before work to ensure a sound evening’s rest. It is possible, however, for the medication to cause drowsiness and lack of attention for several hours – even into the morning commute.

Collisions caused by distracted or impaired drivers can result in devastating injuries and significant property damage. Vehicle occupants can suffer injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord damage or paralysis. If you were injured in an accident caused by a driver affected by prescription medication, it is crucial that you take steps to protect your finances as soon as possible.