South Carolina, like all the other states in the Union, has strict laws against drunk driving and drugged driving. While most people think of drugged driving as driving under the influence of illicit drugs, drugged driving often involves the use of prescribed medications. In fact, according to DrugAbuse.gov, prescription drugs are responsible for more fatal drugged driving crashes (47 percent) than marijuana, which account for 37 percent of drugged driving accidents, and cocaine, which account for just 10 percent.
Though it is difficult to determine how many drugged drivers cause car accidents, the paper reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 18 percent of drivers killed in car crashes had at least one medication in their system. Later findings showed that 11 percent of deadly car accidents involved a drugged driver.
The Food and Drug Administration explores the impact of prescription drugs on individuals and warns that the effects of certain medications can impair one’s ability to drive. According to the administration, drug reactions are very similar to the effects of alcohol and may include blurred vision, sleepiness, slowed movement, impaired reaction time, inability to focus, dizziness and nausea. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for individuals to use more than one medication at a time. The FDA warns that the more medications one uses, the less likely he or she will be able to drive a car safely.
Many people need medications to live in comfort and without pain, but they also need to be able to get from point A to point B. Should they have to forfeit either prescription medications or driving to keep themselves and others safe? Not exactly. The FDA suggests that individuals who use prescription medications should talk to their doctors about possible side effects of drugs and what they can do to minimize the drugs’ impact on driving. Some measures a doctor may be able to take to reduce a medication’s impact include adjusting the dose, adjusting the timing of the dose, implementing a nutrition or exercise program to limit the need for medication or, if necessary, switching the medication to one that does not cause drowsiness.