Fleet News

RAC welcomes new drug-driving move

THE RAC Foundation has welcomed a Government move to warn fleets of the dangers of employees driving after taking over-the-counter medicines and called for a new 'traffic light system' for all medicines.

Fleet NewsNet reported last week that fleet decision-makers had come under renewed pressure to impose strict checks on business drivers' health because of labelling on medicines that was inconsistent, inaccurate and possibly dangerous.

The Department for Transport report focused on the dangers of drivers falling asleep after taking medicines, because warnings on their potential side-effects were not clear enough.

The RAC Foundation has made similar conclusions about over-the-counter drugs in the past. A survey it carried out among motorists found widespread confusion over which common medicines would be safe to take before driving.

More than half of the drivers interviewed for the RAC Foundation survey, carried out by NOP Automotive, claimed they would drive after taking a common treatment for allergies, even though medical opinion classes this as 'inadvisable', while more than a quarter said they would not drive after taking a harmless flu remedy.

Following this, and previous research, the RAC Foundation has called on the Government to back a scheme that could save lives by making the messages on drugs easier to read.

It has called for a traffic light system to be made mandatory on all over-the-counter drugs so consumers know which ones pose a driving hazard. Commonly available medicines would be labelled:

  • Green: safe or unlikely to produce an effect, OK to drive.
  • Amber: likely to produce minor side-effects, check instructions, may be inadvisable to drive.
  • Red: likely to produce severe adverse effects or presumed to be potentially dangerous, do not drive.

    Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: 'The new research on over-the-counter drugs confirms our fears that many drugs have unclear warnings about their potentially lethal effect on driver behaviour.

    'Our survey among ordinary motorists, combined with discussions with senior police officers, clinicians and academics working in the field has convinced us that urgent action needs to be taken to increase awareness and reduce the confusion about taking medicines and driving.

    'While much has been done to tackle attitudes towards drinking and driving over past decades, the problems of drug- driving seem to have been overlooked – even though younger people now say that they are twice as likely to have been driven by someone high on drugs than someone under the influence of alcohol.'

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