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Drug Impaired Driving

Driving on drugs campaign launches to inform America

The National Safety Council (NSC) has launched a Public Service Campaign to educate Americans about the hazards of Drug-Impaired Driving. The public service announcements describe the dangers of driving while impaired by many common prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as some antihistamines and anti-anxiety medications.

"Impairment from alcohol and illegal drugs is a leading cause of car crashes, but impairment can also be caused by many common prescription and over-the-counter medications," said Alan McMillan, NSC President. "Some medications, such as some antihistamines used to treat allergies and anti-anxiety medications, may affect driving skills by inducing drowsiness or excitability or by altering reaction times. Other medications, including some cold and cough medications, sleeping pills and painkillers, can also impair driving skills."

McMillan said the announcements would address some of the signs and symptoms of impairment, such as drowsiness, excitability, altered reaction times and altered depth perception. "The effects of impairment vary with each person, but can generally be defined as a change in a person's ability to perform routine daily tasks at the normal level of functioning," McMillan said. "Impairment can affect driving ability, among other things, but changes can often be difficult to identify. In fact, people may be drug impaired and not realize it."

McMillan said that Americans could protect themselves and others from driving while impaired by following these tips:

1. Talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist to learn the side effects of any medications you're taking.

2. Carefully read the directions and warning labels of all medications.

3. Ask your healthcare provider about non-impairing alternatives.

Never take more than the recommended dose.

5. Don't mix medications without first checking with healthcare provider or pharmacist.

6. Don't mix alcohol with medication.

McMillan offered this additional advice: "If you are taking pre-scription or over-the-counter medications, talk to your health-care provider or pharmacist about non-impairing alternatives," he said. "Each of us has a personal responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe on the roads."

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit, nongovernmental, international public service organization dedicated to protecting life and promoting health. Members of NSC include more than 45,000 businesses, labor organizations, schools, public agencies, private groups and individuals. Founded in 1913, and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1953, the primary focus of the NSC is preventing injuries that occur in workplaces, homes, communities and motor vehicles. For more information about the NSC, visit the website at or contact your local NSC chapter.