Driving when you are taking medications.For most people, driving represents freedom, control and independence. Driving enables most people to get to the places they want or need to go. For many people, driving is important economically some drive as part of their job or to get to and from work.
Driving is a complex skill. Our ability to drive safely can be affected by changes in our physical, emotional and mental condition. The goal of this brochure is to help you and your health care professional talk about how your medications may affect your ability to drive safely.
How can medications affect my driving?
People take medications for a variety of reasons. Those can include:
Medicines include medications that your doctor prescribes and over-the-counter medications that you buy without a doctor’s prescription. Many individuals also take herbal supplements. Some of these medications and supplements may cause a variety of reactions that may make it more difficult for you to drive a car safely. These reactions may include:
Often people take more than one medication at a time. The combination of different medications can cause problems for some people. This is especially true for older adults because they take more medications than any other age group. Due to changes in the body as people age, older adults are more prone to medication related problems. The more medications you take, the greater your risk that your medicines will affect your ability to drive safely. To help avoid problems, it is important that at least once a year you talk to your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications both prescription and over-the-counter you are taking. Also let your professional know what herbal supplements, if any, you are taking. Do this even if your medications and supplements are not currently causing you a problem.
Can I still drive safely if I am taking medications?
Yes, most people can drive safely if they are taking medications. It depends on the effect those medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – have on your driving. In some cases you may not be aware of the effects. But, in many instances, your doctor can help to minimize the negative impact of your medications on your driving in several ways. Your doctor may be able to:
What can I do if I am taking medications?
Talk to your doctor honestly.
Ask your doctor if you should drive — especially when you first take a medication.
Talk to your pharmacist.
Let your doctor and pharmacist know what is happening.
What if I have to cut back or give up driving?
You can keep your independence even if you have to cut back or give up on your driving due to your need to take medications. It may take planning ahead on your part, but it will get you to the places you want to go and the people you want to see. Consider:
Also, senior centers and religious and other local service groups often offer transportation services for older adults in the community.
Who can I call for help with transportation?
Call the ElderCare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 and ask for the phone number of your local Office on Aging, or go to their website at www.eldercare.gov.
Contact your regional transit authority to find out which bus or train to take.
Call Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In Our Nation) at 1-800-659-6428 or go to their website at www.easterseals.com/transportation.
Where do I find out more about medications?
Your first step is to talk with your health care professional. You also can contact the:
You also can get a copy of the “Age Page On Older Drivers” from the National Institute on Aging by calling 1-800-222-2225, or by going to their website at www.niapublications.org/engagepages/drivers.asp.
Wear your safety belt
Always wear your safety belt when you are driving or riding in a car. Make sure that every person who is riding with you also is buckled up. Wear your safety belt even if your car has air bags.