Drivers warned about drowsy hay fever drugs

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The results of a survey have indicated that hay fever drugs could be a danger to drivers.

A poll undertaken by road safety charity, Brake, and the insurance company, Direct Line, found that as many as 44% of motorists using hay fever medication admitted to not checking the instructions on the package to see if their driving ability may be impaired.

About 17% of the 1000 drivers who had been questioned admitted that they ignored warnings about not driving when they took the medication, or they did not check the labels for this at all.

The research indicated that 30% of drivers were completely unaware of the dangers of driving while taking hay fever or allergy medications. The lack of awareness of the impairment of driving abilities whilst taking medication was higher among males at 39%, compared to females at 23%.

Awareness among drivers was much lower where other medications were concerned, such as cough medicines at 60% and decongestants at 47%.

The Deputy Chief of Brake, Julie Townsend, said that people should be aware that it is not only illegal drugs that make it unsafe for you to drive. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can make you a danger to yourself and others on the roads.

She said that the widespread lack of awareness among drivers is quite alarming in that they unknowingly become a danger on the roads, particularly at this time of year when so many people will be taking medications for hay fever.

The Director of Car Insurance at Direct Line, Rob Miles, has asked for drivers to use alternative transport methods if their medications advise them to refrain from driving.

The Director of Clinical Services for Allergy UK, Maureen Jenkins, said that the choice of second and third-generation antihistamines is preferable over first-generation antihistamines, as the latter passes into the central nervous system, thereby causing sedation. Tests done on real driving indicate that drivers should avoid first-generation medications. If you are in doubt about your medication, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist.

Image Credit: Timo Newton-Syms

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