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Can prescription medication side effects lead to vehicle collisions?

A significant percentage of Americans rely on daily prescription medication to manage serious conditions or reduce severe symptoms. One survey published by AAA noted that 11% of respondents answered that they took three or more prescription medications each day. While this might not seem like a serious factor, when the potential side effects of these medications are examined, it can spell disaster for drivers.

Depending on an individual’s medical history and the severity of the condition they face, prescription medication ranges in both strength and side effects. Many of these side effects can dramatically alter a driver’s perceptions of the environment and increase the chance of a serious collision, including:

  • Drowsiness: One of the most common side effects of strong medication is the possibility of drowsiness. Drivers might get tired or feel sluggish while behind the wheel. This can hinder a driver’s ability to recognize danger and react to road conditions.
  • Dizziness: Many individuals struggle with dizziness after taking strong prescription medication. This level of cognitive impairment can make it difficult to concentrate and judge distances while on the road.
  • Blurred vision: Drivers rely on their sight to continuously scan their surroundings to recognize danger and react to vehicles around them. Blurred vision or limited peripheral vision can prevent a driver from navigating busy or fast-moving roads in a safe manner.
  • Nausea: While nausea might not directly lead to a motor vehicle collision, it is often a factor that can distract a driver. This serious distraction could lead to a driver focusing on his or her health while scanning the road for a place to stop for relief rather than paying attention to other motorists.

Whether it is a life-saving prescription medication or strong over the counter remedies, these treatments can cause drivers unforeseen difficulties. Other motorists, sharing the road with distracted or impaired drivers, can find themselves facing severe danger and catastrophic injuries.

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