Drivers given a dose of reality

Spring sunshine can bring with it a bout of colds and flu, which could see some drivers getting behind the wheel when they shouldn’t, warns insurethebox.

In fact recent government research shows that drug drivers, which includes those under the influence of legal prescription and over-the-counter medications, are now just as likely to be convicted as drink drivers.

Drivers using common over-the-counter cold and flu medications could have reduced reaction times, leaving them at risk of a fine or prison sentence if they are involved in an accident.

insurethebox is reminding young and new drivers in particular to check the side-effects of over-the-counter medications, as well as ensure they don’t risk ‘over-dosing’ by doubling up on different medications such as tablets and drink-based remedies. Many cold and flu treatments include side effects such as drowsiness, nausea and dizziness. So drivers should check which ones they are buying and read the instructions carefully before driving. Crucially all drugs, whether prescribed, over the counter or illegal, are covered by the same laws, so driving under the influence carries the risk of a fine or ban.

A bad cold or flu is in itself also a risk to drivers as Simon Rewell, road safety manager at insurethebox explained, ‘We are currently at the beginning of the spring cold and flu season which means some people could be getting into their car without thinking about whether they are well enough to drive. Coughs and colds can impair hearing and balance, as well as make people feel sluggish, reducing reaction times and observation. Coughing and sneezing fits are also a danger behind the wheel.

‘On top of the symptoms of the illness itself, cold and flu treatments could also impair driving ability. If a motorist is pulled over by the police and deemed unfit to drive due to the effect of drugs in their system, it could lead to an unlimited fine or in the worst case, a prison sentence. This makes it vital that drivers read the information that comes with their medication.

‘We believe this is particularly important for young and recently qualified drivers. They may be aware of the effects of alcohol, but don’t think about the use of over-the-counter remedies with the same caution. Drug driving is a serious charge, so all drivers need to take responsibility for checking their medication and their overall health before deciding whether or not they’re fit to drive.’