Fleet News

Crash figures spark 'flu drugs warning

FLEET drivers suffering from bad colds or a bout of 'flu are being encouraged to think twice before driving after taking medication.

Warnings have been sounded that common remedies can have side effects that can affect how people drive.

Although modern medicines are safe and effective when taken correctly, some act as sedatives, making people drowsy, while others can act as a stimulant, warns Budget Insurance Services.

It adds that research into the number of fatal accidents on the UK's roads show that traces of prescription drugs were present in 5.5% of people killed.

The company said although this does not mean that these people were killed as a direct result of the drug, it suggests that it may have had an influence on the driver's concentration or alertness.

Simon Jackson, Budget's head of products, said: 'Claims for motor accidents resulting from drivers feeling drowsy at the wheel as a direct effect from medicines could be reduced if motorists were aware of the dangers.

'As a result, this would help to keep everyone's motor insurance premiums down. Drivers who are not aware of the dangers of these remedies are greatly at risk, as it only takes a second to close your eyes, leave your lane and crash.'

The warning comes months after the RAC Foundation called for a 'traffic light system' for all medicines. This, it said, would ensure customers know which ones pose a driving hazard (Fleet NewsNet, June 5).

A month earlier, the Government moved to warn fleets of the dangers of employees driving after talking over-the-counter medicines.

A Department for Transport study, undertaken by Loughborough University's Sleep Research Unit, found the recommended range of advisory labels on medicines warning of possible drowsiness were not always followed by manufacturers.

Top tips to avoid medicine problems

BUDGET Insurance Services recommends the following tips to help combat the problem of accidents caused by driving under the influence of cough and cold medicines:

  • Always check with your pharmacist if there are any side effects to your medication that could alter your normal levels of concentration and co-ordination.
  • Some day or night-time cough and cold remedies may have a sedative effect, so always read the patient information leaflet carefully before you get behind the wheel.
  • Be aware sleeping tablets remain in the body for several hours and will probably affect driving the morning after they have been taken.
  • Anti-depressants can also make you drowsy and affect driving the same day, or the day after they have been taken.
  • Antihistamines, allergy treatments and travel sickness pills may cause drowsiness. Do not drive for several hours after taking them, as they can impair vision and make drivers more susceptible to the 'dazzle' of oncoming headlights.
  • Some painkillers can make you feel tired and less alert, whereas others may act as a stimulant and affect your ability to stay safe when driving.

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