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Prescription Medications May Increase Risk of Car Accidents

Written by Ankin Law Office

Drowsy driving is one of the most common driving hazards, with new data highlighting just how dangerous it really is. Research shows that drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving while drunk. A study conducted by researchers in Australia found that being awake for 18 hours causes driving impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .05; after 24 hours awake, the a driver is impaired as much as if he or she had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, which is considered to be legally drunk in all states.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year 100,000 car crashes are caused by drowsy driving, resulting in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

An obvious causes of drowsy driving is lack of sleep, but there other causes of drowsy driving as well. For instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public last year that certain sleep medications, specifically those containing zolpidem (Ambien, Ambien CR, and Edluar), are known to cause next-morning impairment. As a result, last year, the FDA recommended that the warning labels of these drugs be revised to include the FDA’s new recommendation that patients taking extended-release zolpidem drugs (either 6.25 mg or 12.5 mg) “should not drive or engage in other activities that require complete mental alertness the day after taking the drug because zolpidem levels can remain high enough the next day to impair these activities.”

When the FDA first notified the public regarding the drowsy driving risks associated with certain sleeping aids, it made the following statements in a press release:

“To decrease the potential risk of impairment with all insomnia drugs, health care professionals should prescribe, and patients should take, the lowest dose capable of treating the patient’s insomnia,” said Ellis Unger, M.D., director, Office of Drug Evaluation I in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Patients who must drive in the morning or perform some other activity requiring full alertness should talk to their health care professional about whether their sleep medicine is appropriate.”

“Over the years FDA has received spontaneous adverse event reports of driving impairment and motor vehicle accidents associated with zolpidem, but these reports lacked the information necessary to fully understand whether and how zolpidem affected people’s mental alertness and ability to drive,” said Dr. Unger. “Recently, data from clinical trials and other types of studies have become available, which allowed FDA to better characterize the risk of next-morning impairment.”

As we recently reported, certain other drivers seem to be more prone to drowsy driving. For instance, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that drowsy driving is more prevalent among men, younger drivers, binge drinkers, and those who do not always wear a seatbelt.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

The Chicago car accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are dedicated to keeping Illinois roads safe, promoting safe driving habits, and helping the victims of car crashes obtain maximum compensation for their injuries and damages. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that clients don’t pay unless they collect money damages. If you were injured in an auto accident, do not hesitate to contact the Chicago auto accident lawyersat Ankin Law Offices at (312) 600-0000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible car accident claim.

Categories: Auto Accidents