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Medication Use and Car Accidents

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Medication Use and Car Accidents


It is not unusual for people to take daily medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol; however, people need to think about how these pills impact their ability to operate heavy machinery, such as a car. While many medications do not have any impact on a person’s mental state, psychotropic medications do.

A group of scientists published a research study that analyzed how certain medications impacted the rate of car accident development. The results pose some important implications for the future. As a Sacramento personal injury lawyer, I see the devastating injuries and deaths caused by someone driving drunk.

In this article, we explore medication use and car accidents.

Medication Side Effects can Lead to Injuries in Accidents

Every medication has side effects, and patients should be aware of the medications they are taking before starting them. While some medications, such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen, may have minimal side effects, not every medication is benign. Some of them can have adverse impacts on heart rate and blood pressure, while others can lead to mentation issues.

When patients take psychiatric medications or other medicines that can impact someone’s mental state, such as narcotics, it can adversely impact their ability to operate a motor vehicle. If someone becomes dizzy, experiences poor judgment, or falls asleep behind the wheel, they can wind up in an auto accident and suffer serious traumatic injuries, such as bone fractures. Someone involved in an auto or truck accident can suffer a femur fracturetraumatic brain injury, or other types of catastrophic personal injury. This can lead to a trip to the hospital or, possibly, a wrongful death claim.

Because of the serious nature of psychotropic medications and the impact that they can have on someone’s ability to drive, a team of researchers conducted a study to see what kind of impacts these medications might have on their ability to operate a motor vehicle. The results of this study have some interesting implications for the future management of medicines and driving ability.

The Methods of the Study

The researchers conducted an extensive review of the electronic literature to find studies that analyzed the effects of medications on someone’s driving ability. They found that many of the studies were being done on older drivers since this is the patient population commonly on medications. They searched for studies that looked at the prevalence of psychotropic medications in drivers, the side effects that people suffer on these medications, and whether or not there is a relationship between the people on these medications and the rate at which they are involved in auto accidents. After collecting the information, they conducted a standard statistical analysis to see any significant results.

The Results of the Research

The results demonstrated that many different psychotropic medications can increase someone’s risk of being involved in a car accident. This is because many of these medications can impair their driving ability by clouding their judgment, slowing their reflexes, and impairing their ability to see and hear what is going on around them. Those who have car accidents while on these medications are still at risk of suffering severe injuries.

The study also noted that most people taking these medications are older individuals who may have issues driving already. The study recommends that larger, epidemiological studies on entire populations are needed to get a more accurate picture of the average side effects people experience while taking medications that impact their mentation.

Moving Forward: Accident Prevention

The results of this study show that psychotropic medications can adversely impact someone’s ability to drive. This impairment can place the driver at risk and the other passengers in the car and the other drivers on the road. It is important for physicians to adequately assess the medications that their patients are on and screen the potential side effects of these pills to ensure that the individual is safe to drive a motor vehicle.

Furthermore, the study indicates that some limitations need to be addressed. Much of the patient population on these medications are older individuals whose driving skills may have deteriorated over time with age. This means that it can be hard to tell if their issues are related to the medications they are taking or due to the natural aging process. This should be addressed in future studies.

Finally, not everyone responds to medications in the same manner. Some people may not have any side effects with a certain pill, while the same medicine can have serious side effects on another person. Therefore, it is hard to standardize driving regulations surrounding these pills across the board. Future studies should try to address this as well.

The video below explains how some common over-the-counter medications can impair your driving ability.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento. If you’ve suffered a serious injury due to someone’s negligent or careless driving, please reach out to me for some free, friendly advice by calling 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400.

We are members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

See our case history of verdicts and settlements and our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and AVVO.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.29.21]

Image Attribution: 3.0 version of the CC BY SA License from Wikimedia Commons

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