Drivers taking prescription medications may suffer drug side effects that increase accident and injury risks for themselves and other motorists.

Medicated Drivers Behind the Wheel

Millions of people take prescription medications to manage medical conditions. While some medications are taken for a short time to manage inflammation and pain, others must be taken daily to manage serious conditions like heart disease, kidney failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and chronic joint diseases. Whether taken periodically or every day, most prescription medications have some type of side effects that can impair cognitive and physical functions required for driving a vehicle.

Prescription medications can cause impaired driving and increase the risks of car crashes. A Chicago car accident lawyer commonly sees serious collisions caused by medicated drivers who lose control of their vehicle due to the following conditions:

Impaired Cognitive Functions

Driving a car requires someone behind the wheel who is fully alert and paying close attention to the road. Impaired cognitive functions can cause a variety of problems including mental confusion, inability to make decisions, lack of judgment, poor motor coordination, and short or long-term memory loss. Impaired cognitive functions can cause a driver to struggle with following traffic signals and completing safe traffic maneuvers.

Impaired Motor Skills

When driving a car, impaired motor skills can lead to fatal car accidents. Safely controlling and maneuvering a vehicle in traffic is not an option, it’s a necessity. Impaired motor skills can cause dangers when merging into traffic, changing lanes, passing another vehicle, failing to follow at a safe distance, failing to maintain proper speeds, and slowing down or stopping.


Drowsiness is a common side effect in prescription medications. Many medications have labels that advise against operating a motor vehicle. Drowsiness and falling asleep behind the wheel is the cause of many car crashes. Drowsy drivers injure other motorists as well as pedestrians.


Medications that cause dizziness affect balance and depth perception. Dizziness is often a side effect with tranquilizers, sedatives, sleep medications, high blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. Driving while on these or other medications that cause dizziness can lead to a fatal collision.

Blurred Vision

Good vision is required for getting a driver’s license and safe driving. A variety of prescription medications can cause blurred vision. The most common ones include medications for heart disease, high cholesterol, seizures, ulcers, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety, asthma, and allergies.

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