Road Transport Forum News

 
Contributions sought for substance-impaired driving safety programme

Contributions sought for substance-impaired driving safety programme

Road Transport Forum News

 April 2019    RTF News

The term "substance-impaired driving" naturally makes most people think about illegal drugs, or legal drugs such as alcohol.'

But when I talk about substance-impaired driving, what I'm most focused on is the effect of medication on your body. This is medication that may have been given by a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Or maybe you just bought some meds over the counter.

These substances can include medications for pain, heart conditions, allergies, diabetes and mental health conditions.

Impairment refers to situations where your physical functions or emotional ability are affected in a way that makes you unsafe to drive.

An example would be if you have a cold, along with aches and pains, and you decide to buy some medicine from a pharmacy. You might take the medicine and then feel drowsy and less alert. This is a classic example of substance impairment and will have a negative impact on your driving ability.

...

Subscribers: Please LOGIN to read the full article.

The term "substance-impaired driving" naturally makes most people think about illegal drugs, or legal drugs such as alcohol.
But when I talk about substance-impaired driving, what I'm most focused on is the effect of medication on your body. This is medication that may have been given by a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist. Or maybe you just bought some meds over the counter.
These substances can include medications for pain, heart conditions, allergies, diabetes and mental health conditions.
Impairment refers to situations where your physical functions or emotional ability are affected in a way that makes you unsafe to drive.
An example would be if you have a cold, along with aches and pains, and you decide to buy some medicine from a pharmacy. You might take the medicine and then feel drowsy and less alert. This is a classic example of substance impairment and will have a negative impact on your driving ability.
Most people downplay the issue of substance impairment when it comes to the use of medications. However, it is a far more widespread problem than most of us realise. Research has found that a third of drivers killed on NZ's roads have had medications or drugs in their system that may have impaired their driving.
The prevalence and lack of awareness around substance-impaired driving means NZTA has identified it as a major safety issue.
I'm sure most readers would be surprised to know that around a quarter of all prescriptions for medication are known to impair driving ability and that each year two-thirds of us use medicines that may cause impairment.
The Agency has done specific research into the heavy transport sector: The research shows that one-fifth of heavy vehicle drivers will drive regardless of how they feel – and that more than half of our heavy vehicle drivers don't realise that it is against the law to drive when impaired by any substance, including medication.
A range of resources have been developed for use by operators and drivers that can be accessed at the NZTA website: https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/driving-safely/medication/
For the next phase of this work we are planning to develop a further set of resources specifically to assist the heavy transport sector.
Ideally, we would like to include drivers' stories within these resources. I am therefore extremely keen to hear from you if you have experienced a situation where medicines have affected your driving and you took action to respond to it and prevented a dangerous situation from occurring.
For example, it might be that you were diagnosed as a diabetic, started medications, felt impaired and were given sick leave or alternative duties. Or perhaps you started a once-a-day antidepressant and changed the time of day when you took it, so that it didn't affect your driving. All stories will be made anonymous and your personal details will remain completely private.
If you would like to contribute please email me at craig.waterworth@nzta.govt.nz
If we use your story, we will provide koha for your time.
As we develop the learning resources, we would like to get feedback on how useful companies think they might be. Please also email me if you are interested in being part of a group that contributes to the review and development of these resources.
Don't forget, next time you receive a prescription, ask your prescriber about the effect of the medication on your driving and make sure you read the labels that come with your medications.


Search Articles

NZ Truck & Driver Magazine
Read Now