Stop Before You Pop: The Problem With Medicated Driving

Before you pop a pill and hop behind the wheel, here are a few precautions to consider…

Headaches, back ache, cramps, or perhaps a bit of a hangover…these are just some of the reasons many of us need to take medication from time to time. But how many of us are driving medicated and how many of us are aware of the possible dangers relating to this?

MiWay shares some precautions to consider before you pop a pill behind the wheel…

By: Nthabiseng Moloi, Head of Marketing & Brand at MiWay

For many South Africans, medication is a necessity when it comes to optimal functionality. On a daily basis, we consume pills designed to prevent pain, reduce fever and cure a variety of chronic afflictions so prevalent in a stressed and frenetically paced society.

But what impact does this frivolous use of medication have on other facets of our lives? While a painkiller might be effective in relieving aches, there’s a good chance that it’s also impairing your concentration or rendering you drowsier than you’d like to be.

Given the fact that many South Africans spend a fair portion of their days on the road, the frequent use of medication can put safety at risk with a list of potential side effects particularly ill-suited to maintaining control behind the wheel.

Driving under the influence of medication can be extremely dangerous, often resulting in impaired judgement, fatigue or other afflictions that can result in sometimes fatal accidents.

So before you pop a pill and hop behind the wheel, here are a few precautions to consider:

Familiarise yourself with side effects

Painkillers and other forms of medication can cause drowsiness, dizziness and even mild hallucinations, causing you to perceive the speed and movements of other cars incorrectly. Additionally, certain medications can induce shakiness and even aggression, neither of which is optimal when travelling at 120 km/h. So before you ingest a tablet or two to combat that stress headache, make sure you’re aware of the potential ramifications of your actions.

Consider alternatives

It’s relatively easy to acquire strong medication over the counter in South Africa, but is that industrial-strength painkiller really necessary to cure a mild headache? Before thoughtlessly consuming pills that are overqualified for the task at hand, consult your doctor or pharmacist about milder or even herbal alternatives. These are less likely to compromise the functioning of your mind, body and temperament and may in turn keep you, your passengers and other road users safe on the road.

Fill up

Much like drinking, taking pills on an empty stomach can amplify the side effects experienced, so it’s important to ensure you’ve followed the specific instructions prior to taking any tablets. This will help to mitigate the side effects, and allow your body to process the medication more moderately. It’s also best to avoid taking medication with anything other than water, as other substances can also influence the way the drugs interact with your system. So think twice before slugging down your morning meds with a fizzy soda or cup of coffee.

Take a beat

Medication is a necessity for many, but the potential ramifications of irresponsible usage can be severe, so make sure to wait at least two hours after taking your pill before getting behind the wheel. If your morning commute doesn’t allow for the luxury of time, you might want to consider waiting until you arrive at the office before dosing up.

Also read: South Africa’s roads remain a dangerous place to be

Remember, driving under the influence of drugs is similar in many ways to driving under the influence of alcohol, with harsh penalties in place for those caught. The effects of drugs are often easy to spot too, causing a distinct reaction in your eyes and if you’re pulled over, you’re likely to be prosecuted or fined. So to ensure your safety and preserve your clean criminal record, think twice before setting out if you fear your mind or body could be compromised in any way.