“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.
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.
Medicines that may impair driving may include:
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