It is important to note that these drugs are potentially impairing medications. Not everyone will experience the same side effects or interactions when taking them, or they may experience them sometimes but not others. “Even if you take medications regularly, how they affect you may change over time,” said Nelson. “You may experience symptoms initially and the effect later subsides.”
What you can do
Nelson offers the following recommendations for anyone concerned about medication use and driving:
- The point is not to stop taking medications. It is to monitor yourself, what medications you take, how they make you feel and when the symptoms occur.
- Take your list of medications with you to all the doctors you see and discuss the potential risks of each medication and driving. Carry your list on your person, so that if you’re in an accident, first responders will be in a better position to treat you.
- Talk with your doctor before you stop taking medications or alter the regimen prescribed for you. Your doctor should decide how much and when and may be able to recommend other things for you to help mitigate the risk of taking certain medications and driving.
- In the beginning stages of taking a certain medication or when you’re no longer able to drive, look into alternatives to driving.
Roadwise RX, the only tool of its kind that looks at medications and associated driving hazards, is free to everyone to use. “While older drivers may be at more risk, seniors are among the safest drivers on the road. Safety is dependent on ability, not age,” said Nelson.