Medication Use and Car Accidents
It is not unusual for people to have to take daily medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol; however, it is important for people 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 the use of 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 made aware of the medications that they are taking prior to starting them. While some medications, such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen, may have minimal side effects, not every medication is so benign. Some of them can have adverse impacts on heart rate and blood pressure while others can lead to issues with mentation.
When patients are taking 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 who is involved in an auto or truck accident can suffer a femur fracture, traumatic 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 try and 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 that is 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 who are 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 if there were 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 the majority of 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 that 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 as well as 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 make sure that the individual is safe to drive a motor vehicle.
Furthermore, the study indicates that there were some limitations that 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 that 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 in 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 as a result of 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.
Image Attribution: The picture from the beginning of the article has been used under permission of the 3.0 version of the CC BY SA License, from Wikimedia Commons.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 2.4.20]