drunken drivers: are other drugs just as dangerous?
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DRUNKEN DRIVERS: ARE OTHER DRUGS JUST AS DANGEROUS?
There is ample experimental evidence that various prescribed drugs could in theory cause accidents, but do they in the real world? 'The only test of fitness to drive is real driving.' The effects of most drugs are much harder to study than those of alcohol and the types of accident studies needed to provide conclusive evidence are difficult to do. Sedatives, stimulants and antihistamines have been found to 'increase the risk of fatal accidents, but there is conflicting evidence on the effects of tranquillisers. Alcohol and other drugs combined significantly increase the risk of loss of control at the wheel. An alarming number of people drive at least once a year after taking a psychotropic drug or a drug plus alcohol. However, many people will be safer with than without their medication. In a tricky situation, though, even a slight drug effect may tip the scale. People; including doctors, should be made more aware of the risks, which may be appreciable at the start of treatment and for once-off medication. Patients should be warned about alcohol when prescribed an incompatible drug. This could be reinforced by posters in surgery waiting rooms, health centres and hospitals, and the media might help as well. Self-medication provides pitfalls, as antihistamines and other dangerous substances may be taken unwittingly. A mandatory warning symbol such as a steering wheel has been suggested for both prescription and over-the-counter preparations. There is little evidence about the accident risk associated with drug abuse but there is some evidence of risk for cannabis both from experiments and accident surveys. 'The multiple drug abuse that is becoming more widespread might be particularly hazardous.' 'A Special Correspondent': British Medical Journal 2: 1415 (18 Nav ! 978)
INPHARMA 25th November. 1978 p3
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