Medication Use Tied to Increased Risk of Driver Crashes

Senior drivers often find themselves under immense social pressures in Michigan to give up their license. Public pressure is not without some basis. As people age, their eyesight begins to fail, they may experience hearing loss and their reflexes slow. Even when they are not the cause of accidents, they may not react quickly enough to prevent them.

According to the AAA Foundation, the cocktail of medications taken by the older population makes the situation even worse. Here are some of the many medications that may lead to increased crash risk for all ages:

  • Muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants
  • Central nervous system drugs
  • Narcotic analgesics
  • Antihistamines

In the study, researchers subjected 2,990 drivers to medical reviews. Roughly 97% of the participants took at least one type of medication. The median number of medications taken were seven. A whopping 25% took 11 medications or more, while another 25% took four or fewer. Thankfully, only 1% took 26 or more medications. Medication usage was higher among males than females. Also, 73% of the population studied took cardiovascular drugs. The study did not share how it defined “older adults.”

According to a 2017 study published by the National Institutes of Health, a new public health concern is that so many drivers are operating vehicles while under the influence of prescription drugs. The study helped to identify exactly what medications tended to cause a higher likelihood of crashes. Some of these medications included methadone, codeine and lorazepam.

When drivers of any age take medications, whether habitually or on one-off instances, it is best to check with their doctors about the effects on driving. Otherwise, not only can they put themselves at risk, but innocent pedestrians, cyclists, passengers and other drivers on the road may also lose their lives or face serious injury.