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Motorists advised on medication dangers

Individuals who are feeling under the weather need to be aware of the dangers of taking to the roads after taking over-the-counter medication, as some medicines can have serious side effects.

Drivers across the UK should remember that some prescription drugs can seriously hinder their ability to drive safely, causing a range of symptoms from drowsiness to a lack of concentration.

Indeed, research carried out by has shown 13 per cent of respondents admitted suffering dangerous side effects from medication they have taken while behind the wheel, while almost two-thirds have taken over-the-counter drugs and then proceeded to drive in the past.

Moreover, 67 per cent of drivers involved in the study said they were unaware that some flu and cold treatments can contain alcohol, while 33 per cent admitted to never reading accompanying literature with prescriptions to understand the impact taking these drugs could have on them.

Indeed, some night-time cold remedies contain up to 18 per cent alcohol and are therefore wholly unsuitable for individuals planning to get behind the wheel of a vehicle – this is the equivalent of drinking a light liqueur before going for a drive.

The most common side effects of over-the-counter cold and flu treatments include feelings of lethargy, drowsiness, slower reaction times, blurred vision and poor concentration – all of which are elements not conducive to safer driving.

As a result, police forces across the UK have arrested more than 2,600 people in the last three years for driving while under the influence of legal and illegal drugs – including codeine, diazepam and sleeping pills.

It is therefore essential that all road users fully understand the dangers of treatments they are undertaking and make all necessary arrangements to mitigate the possible risk they pose to both themselves and other road users and pedestrians.

This means that in circumstances where individuals are either aware of potential side effects or are unsure if they are fit to drive, they should not do so.

Gemma Stanbury, head of car insurance at, stated: “The research highlights that many motorists are failing to heed the warnings on certain medication and can find themselves becoming drowsy and dangerously tired at the wheel.

“Accidents caused by driving under the influence of cold and flu medication can easily be avoided by simply reading the safety information.

“Or if unsure motorists should ask the pharmacist or err on the side of caution and don’t drive, as road safety and the safety of others should be a top priority for any driver.”

Indeed, many Brits now feel the penalties for drug-driving in the UK should be harsher, with one in six (17 per cent) of respondents stating their belief those caught under the influence of legal drugs should receive the same penalties as for illegal drug drivers.

Individuals who have been prosecuted for driving while under the influence could face significantly higher premiums in the future. As a result, motorists who fall into this category should consider the benefits of finding the best deals on convicted driver car insurance from GSI Insurance Services (Southern) Limited.

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