Fall means that cold and flu season is right around the corner. In an attempt to manage symptoms, most of us take medications that are either purchased over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. What few realize is that these relatively mild and completely legal drugs can have a major impact on your driving ability, making car accidents and serious personal injuries more likely to occur. That being said, cold and flu medicines actually do increase car accident risks.
Medications and Impaired Driving
Impaired driving is a leading cause of car accidents and injuries. While most drivers are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, many are unaware that the cold and flu medications they are taking could increase car accident risks as well. Particularly during allergy, cold, and flu seasons, the National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that medicines such as decongestants, antihistamines, cough suppressants, and pain relievers can all cause the following impacts:
Drowsiness and dizziness
Watery eyes and difficulty keeping your eyes open
Impaired judgment, making you more likely to take risks or engage in reckless driving behaviors
Decreased coordination, making it harder to manage steering, braking, and other driving skills
Decreased reactions times, making you less likely to respond appropriately to sudden changes in road, weather, or traffic conditions
In addition to being dangerous, driving under the influence of cold and flu medicines could also put you on the wrong side of the law. Under Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code, driving while impaired by alcohol or any substance is illegal. Using over the counter or prescription medications while driving could leave you liable for any crashes or collisions that do occur, and could result in DUI charges.
Risk Factors When Taking Medications And Driving
Even otherwise mild medications can have dramatic impacts on your driving abilities, particularly if you are not feeling well to begin with. Factors that can amplify their effects and increase your car accident risks include:
Not getting enough sleep due to a cold or flu
Excessive tiredness and other cold and flu symptoms, which amplify the effects of medications
Taking cold and flu medicines on an empty stomach, which could increase their impact
Failing to factor in interactions of cold and flu medicines with other drugs you may be taking
The American Automobile Association (AAA) warns that older adults are among those most at risk for dangerous drug interactions and side effects. On average, people over the age of 65 routinely take up to five medications daily. Before adding even a mild decongestant or pain reliever, consult with your doctor first.
Contact Us Today
Even a minor car accident can leave you suffering serious injuries. At the Surasky Law Firm, LLC, we uncover the underlying causes of crashes and collisions, so that victims can get the compensation they need to recover. To find out how we can help protect your rights in a car accident injury claim, contact our Aiken car accident attorney to request a consultation.