Often, when people take sleep aids, they assume that the effects of the medication will have worn off by the time they wake up. Unfortunately, research has shown that is not always the case. Consequently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is stepping up its efforts to ensure people are well-informed about the effects of taking sleep aids.
The agency is especially worried about people who take a sleep medication at night and then drive the following morning. In many cases, the effects of the medication have yet to wear off, resulting in people driving while drowsy. Drowsy driving can have serious consequences for everyone on the road, as it increases the risk of an individual causing a motor vehicle accident.
Sleep aids are common in the United States. According to IMS Health, a research firm, physicians gave out almost 60 million prescriptions for medications that help people get to sleep in 2012. As an increasing number of people have started taking these medications, evidence has arisen that many sleep aids continue to affect people the day after they are taken.
For instance, earlier this year, the FDA announced that the manufacturers of Ambien, a common sleep aid, would be required to reduce the dosage for women in half. The government agency has also recommended that patients taking Benadryl refrain from driving, as it can make patients drowsy the day after the medication is taken.
Avoid a Dangerous Drowsy Driving Accident
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving accidents are relatively common in the United States, resulting in over 100,000 motor vehicle accidents annually. The NHTSA also reported that approximately 1,550 people lose their lives in such collisions each year, while another 40,000 sustain personal injuries because of drowsy drivers.
Despite these dangerous statistics, people across the country continue to get behind the wheel when they are fatigued. According to a study of around 150,000 motorists, over 4 percent admitted they had fallen asleep while driving during the previous month.
Consequently, it is imperative for people to ensure they are fit to drive before getting behind the wheel. Of course, motorists should be cautious about the medications they are taking, even those they take at night if they cause drowsiness.
In addition, drivers should always get a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel. When motorists begin to exhibit the symptoms of fatigue – such as yawning, excessive blinking and drifting from the lane – they should pull over and rest or allow another driver to take over.
If you have been injured in an auto accident caused by a fatigued driver, seek the counsel of a skilled personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected.