GEM Motoring Assist is warning hay fever sufferers to check their medicines carefully before getting behind the wheel, and to be aware of the possible effects these drugs can have on their driving.
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth says: “Some medicines, including those used to treat hay fever, can have an effect on your ability to drive safely. They can affect your vision, your hearing, your reaction time, your perception of risk and your ability to carry out a variety of tasks. You may feel sleepy, sick, dizzy or unable to move quickly. Your vision may be blurred, and you may also find it hard to focus or pay attention. Symptoms like this make you much more likely to be involved in a collision. The same road traffic laws apply to therapeutic drugs as to illicit substances, so if your driving is impaired and you cause a collision, you risk prosecution and the loss of your licence.”
Neil Worth recommends a safety checklist for any driver likely to need a hay fever medicine:
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a medicine could affect your ability to drive. Be particularly careful if you are using a medicine for the first time.
- If you do experience potentially dangerous side effects from a medicine, don’t drive. Organise a taxi or a lift from a friend if you need to travel.
- If you find a particular medicine is making you sleepy, consider asking if there is a non-sedating alternative available.
- It’s not just prescription medicines that can cause drowsiness and other potentially dangerous side-effects. So, check with your pharmacist if you plan to use an over-the-counter drug.
- If you’re unsure about the warning given on the medicine you’re using, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any risks… before you drive anywhere.
An informative GEM video, entitled Drugs, medicines, driving and the law, offers information on how certain prescription medicines and other can affect driving, and is aimed at a more mature audience. Funded by the GEM Motoring Assist Road Safety Charity, the video reflects changes to drug-driving legislation which came into effect in 2015, establishing legal limits for the levels of prescription medicines and illegal drugs.