Medicines that can affect the ability to drive

Whenever we start taking a new medicine , even without a prescription, or other medicinal plant- based products , we should ask a healthcare professional about the risks of driving while our treatment lasts and consult the package leaflet.

Specifically, we have to pay attention to the following adverse effects of the medications we are using:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying alert
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Decreased reflexes: slow reaction
  • Lack of coordination, feeling of instability
  • Fainting, dizziness

On the packaging of this type of medication , the driving pictogram usually appears . This pictogram consists of a red equilateral triangle with the vertex up and a black car inside on a white background, very similar to a traffic sign, with the legend “Driving: see prospectus”. This pictogram does not prohibit driving, but rather warns us that it is advisable to read in the leaflet where all the adverse effects are described. In the leaflet: Look in section 2, the section “Driving and using machines”, which indicates the precautions that must be taken in relation to the adverse effects that may affect you.

According to the Consensus Document on medicines and driving in Spain: information to the general population and the role of health professionals , promoted by the General Directorate of Traffic ( @DGTes ) of the Ministry of the Interior and in which the Ministry of Health has participated, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products ( @AEMPSGOB ) and the University of Valladolid ( @UVa_es ). These are the medicines that can decrease the ability to drive and how they can affect us:

  • The disorders of sleep (hypnotics): dizziness, decreased attention span and decreased responsiveness.
  • The anxiety (anxiolytics): drowsiness, decreased attention span and decreased responsiveness.
  • The psychosis (Antipsychotics): drowsiness, dizziness, restlessness, fatigue.
  • The depression (antidepressants): nervousness, anxiety, drowsiness, impaired coordination, blurred vision.
  • The epilepsy (antiepileptics): drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, weakness).
  • Parkinson’s (Antiparkinsonians): drowsiness, sudden episodes of sleep, spasms, blurred vision, confusion.
  • Pain (analgesics): drowsiness, decreased ability to concentrate and react, dizziness.
  • The migraines (migraine): drowsiness, dizziness, weakness.
  • To anesthetize (Anesthetics).
  • The dementia.
  • Allergies (Antiallergic): drowsiness, reduced ability to react, blurred vision (eye drops).
  • Flu and cold ( Flu and Anticatarrales): drowsiness.
  • Eye conditions: blurred vision.

We must pay special attention to the beginning of treatment or to a change in the dose of some of these medications. Also when we take several medications at the same time: the greater the number of medications consumed at the same time, the greater the probability of experiencing adverse effects and / or interactions. And, of course, we should avoid drinking alcohol while taking medications (and always avoid driving after having consumed alcohol) or if we are tired.

What to do?

  • Follow the administration instructions of the medicine that the health professional has indicated. Do not stop taking the medication on your own and, if you have any questions, ask again.
  • Observe the effect that the medicine produces on you: do you feel drowsy, weak, blurred vision? Be aware of how the drug affects your ability to drive; don’t stop using the medicine and don’t drive.
  • Depending on the type of medication you are taking, avoid driving the first few days of treatment or when your dose is changed.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol when taking medications (and always avoid driving after consuming alcohol).
  • Take the medication at the dose and schedule indicated by the healthcare professional.
  • Don’t self-medicate.
  • If you have to drive regularly, always indicate it so that the professional can assess the possibility of finding the medicine that least influences your ability to drive.

All these recommendations are especially important if we are professional drivers or older people.


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