There are many things that a driver can do that will inhibit his or her ability to effectively react to changes in traffic. There are also plenty of behaviors or actions that the driver can engage in that make it far more likely that said driver will be involved, or directly cause, a motor vehicle accident. Distracted driving, drunk driving, abusing drugs — may they be illegal or prescription — and many other forms of dangerous driving are examples of these descriptions.
Sleeping pills obviously qualify as “abusing drugs” when it comes to driving. But the scary part about sleeping pills is that, even after their effects have supposedly worn off and even if you took one the day before, the pill could still be affecting you right now, unbeknownst to you.
A new study sheds a scary light on this topic. researchers examined drivers that used any of the top three sleeping pill brands, and they found that when sleeping pill users got behind the wheel, even when the effects of the pill were supposedly gone, the driver was still quite impaired. In fact, their risk of getting into a crash was “25 percent to three times” higher. That puts them on par with legally drunk drivers.
Obviously, this is an issue that has two parts. On the one hand, no one should be getting behind the wheel of a car when they are under the influence of sleeping pills — even if that pill was consumed yesterday. But on the other hand, we could have a regulatory issue with sleeping pills. Clearly the sedatives in these pills need to be toned down in order to keep people safe.
Source: NBC News, “Sleeping Pill Use Raises Car Crash Risk, Study Finds,” Maggie Fox, June 11, 2015