Did you know that some over-the-counter and prescription medicines can affect the way you drive?

Medicines can affect people in different ways.

You should ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Last updated: 07 January 2020
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What types of medicines can affect my driving?

Some examples include:

  • Some cold remedies and allergy products (e.g. Codral Day and Night®, Phenergan®)
  • Sleeping tablets and anxiety medicine(e.g. Antenex®/Valium®, Stilnox®)
  • Pain and opioid medicines (e.g. Lyrica®,Panadeine Forte®, Endone®, Tramal®)
  • Some antidepressant and antipsychotic medicines (e.g. Seroquel®, Lexapro®)
  • Some medicines for epilepsy (e.g. Neurontin®)
  • Opioid treatment medicines methadone and buprenorphine (e.g. Suboxone®, Subutex®)
  • Prescribed cannabis medicines

Drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs when taking medicines, taking more than the prescribed dose, or taking a combination of these substances can seriously affect your ability to drive safely.

How can these medicines affect my driving?

Some medicines can cause:

  • Confusion/poor concentration
  • Slower reaction time
  • Drowsiness/tiredness
  • Dizziness/feeling faint
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Muscle weakness
  • Anxiety and mood changes
  • Shakiness/unsteadiness

These symptoms can make it unsafe for you to drive, cycle or use machinery and an put you and other road users at risk of an accident.

If you are taking any medicine and feel any of the symptoms listed above or are unsure about driving - DONT DRIVE

How do I make sure I am safe to drive?

Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if and when it’s safe to drive while taking your medicines.

  • Do not drive if you have consumed any alcohol or illicit drugs
  • If you have to take medicine that affects your driving, organise alternative transport e.g. public transport, friends and family, or taxis
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about other medicines you could take that may be less impairing, particularly if you need to drive or operate machinery for work
  • Do not stop taking your medicines or alter the dose without medical advice as this can also put you at risk when driving
  • Read the warning labels on your medicines to check if they might be a risk to driving safely

Some serious and chronic medical conditions that can affect your ability to drive safely may be reported to NSW Road and Maritime Service for your and other road users’ safety. Your doctor can provide advice about how your particular medical condition might affect your ability to drive safely, and how it might be managed.

More information

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Page Updated: Tuesday 7 January 2020
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health