The literature of epidemiological and laboratory studies is reviewed concerning the effects of drugs, including alcohol, on driving performance. Alcohol is obviously the most common single cause of traffic accidents. A progressively increased risk with increasing blood alcohol levels is well documented; fatigue and/or other drugs increase this risk. Drugs other than alcohol are much less frequently related to traffic accidents although, on the basis of statistics, there is a potential risk with their use. The most significant drugs in terms of driving risk are certain antianxiety agents, hypnotics, stimulants, hallucinogens, marijuana, lithium, and narcotic analgesics, as well as ganglionic blocking agents, insulin, and sulfonylurea derivatives. Patients should not drive after taking these drugs until they are fully alert and capable. Anticholinergics, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, phenylbutazone, indomethacin, alpha-methyldopa, and beta-blockers may in some cases cause central side effects (e.g. drowsiness) strong enough to affect driving performance. After starting therapy with these drugs, or after a significant change in dose, driving should be avoided until it is known that unwanted effects do not occur. Pyschotropic drugs may enhance the deleterious effect of alcohol, and with most hypnotics there is still an effect the next morning. Some drugs (e.g. anticonvulsants or anti-Parkinsonian drugs) may make driving safer, but the diseases (epilepsy, Parkinsonism, cardiovascular diseases, psychic disorders) often preclude driving. Clinicians should warn their patients about possible impairment in driving skills due to the disability or to the medication.

  • Availability:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • At head of title: Review Article.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Adis Press Australasia Proprietary Limited

    P.O. Box 132
    Balgowlah, Sydney, New South Wales  Australia  2093
  • Authors:
    • SEPPALA, T
    • MATTILA, M J
  • Publication Date: 1979

Media Info

  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: p. 389-408
  • Serial:
    • Drugs
    • Volume: 17
    • Issue Number: 5
    • Publisher: Adis Press Australasia Proprietary Limited
    • ISSN: 0012-6667

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00392286
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-028 888
  • Files: HSL, USDOT
  • Created Date: Feb 28 1985 12:00AM