NHTSA Wants to Spread the Word: “There’s More Than One Way to Be Under the Influence”

22 Oct 2019

By now, most people understand the danger of driving under the influence of illicit drugs and alcohol. Most even understand the risks involved when driving excessively sleepy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking to educate drivers about other ways to be under the influence they may not know about.

If you’re a fleet manager, take this opportunity to send the NHTSA message to your fleet drivers.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

Many prescription medications and over-the-counter medications alike can have dangerous side effects that impair your ability to drive. Warnings about operating heavy machinery do not apply only to forklifts, dump trucks, and tractors. Automobiles are also heavy machinery.

Side effects warned about on over-the-counter medication packaging that could impair your ability to drive include things like:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Shakiness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

These are ominous enough and can be found on even mild medications like cough syrups, cold remedies, and allergy medications.

Prescription drugs sometimes offer more complex side effects. These side effects may cause equally great risks while driving, such as:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Speeding
  • Nausea

Many of the drugs commonly prescribed to treat pain, depression, mood, and improve sleep also carry greater risks of accidents when operating vehicles under the influence. Even medications that offer no ill effects on their own can create problems when mixed with specific medications or with alcohol.

Consequences of Driving Under the Effect

In most states, laws related to driving under the influence are not limited to illicit drugs and alcohol. This means that drivers under the influence of over-the-counter medications or prescription medications who have accidents, cause injuries, or even cause the death of someone, as a result, face the same consequences as someone operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

You could be arrested, jailed, and fined. In cases where injuries, death, and/or property damage occur, you could face civil penalties and additional legal issues as well. It is imperative for drivers to understand the risks and consequences of driving under the influence – any influence. That is what this campaign is all about.

The message the NHTSA is trying to drive home is that if you are impaired in any way that might affect your driving, you should not get behind the wheel. That means it is important to know the risks presented by over the counter and prescription medications you are taking and understanding how they affect you personally before you drive under their influences.

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