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Which popular OTC medications can negatively affect Bay Area drivers?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Car Accident

Anyone who’s getting behind the wheel of a vehicle should ensure they’re mentally and physically able to drive safely. For example, while many people don’t think much about what medications they take before they drive, there are some that can have a negative effect on driving.

It’s typically a good idea for anyone who’s taking any new medication, including over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, to see how it affects them before they drive. If they experience dizziness, drowsiness or any other effects that could impair their ability to drive, they should avoid driving until the effects of the medication wear off.

Drowsiness and sedation

One of the most common side effects of many OTC medications is drowsiness or sedation. Antihistamines, often used to treat allergies, colds and insomnia, are well-known for their sedative effects.

Medications like diphenhydramine, found in Benadryl, and doxylamine, an ingredient in Unisom, can cause significant drowsiness. These medications can slow reaction times, impair coordination, and reduce alertness, making it dangerous to drive.

Blurred vision and dizziness

Certain OTC medications can cause blurred vision or dizziness, further impairing driving abilities. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine, found in Sudafed, can cause dizziness and visual disturbances.

Similarly, medications used to relieve motion sickness, such as meclizine, better known as Dramamine, can lead to blurred vision and dizziness. These side effects can make it difficult for drivers to focus on the road, judge distances accurately and maintain proper lane position.

Slowed reaction times

OTC medications that have a sedative effect can slow down reaction times, making it harder for drivers to respond quickly to unexpected situations. Cough and cold medications often contain ingredients like dextromethorphan, which can have sedative properties.

Additionally, medications that combine multiple active ingredients, such as those for multi-symptom cold relief, can enhance sedative effects and further slow reaction times. This can be particularly dangerous in heavy traffic or during adverse weather conditions where quick reflexes are essential.

Unfortunately, a driver who’s impaired because of OTC medications can slam into other vehicles, which may result in innocent people suffering serious injuries. Those victims may opt to pursue compensation, but these cases can often be complex. Having the assistance of a legal representative may help a victim to get their case together effectively while they focus on healing.