Drugs and medicines Lessons Note

Driving while impaired by a drug is an offence. Many driver fatalities are affected by medicines and/or illegal drugs, which is why there is zero tolerance regarding drugs and driving.

How do drugs affect driving?

Drug effects include impaireddriving skills by affecting your vision, reflexes, alertness, coordination etc., and behavioural change such as taking risks that you wouldn’t take normally. This endangers yourself, your passengers, and other road users.

Illegal drugs

Cannabis, ecstasy, speed and heroin are examples of illegal drugs that can affect your driving. Illegal drugs increase the crash risk and make you a danger to all road users.


Medicines bought on prescription and over-the-counter can also impair driving

Medicines may increase the risk of crashing by affecting your concentration, coordination, mood and reaction time. Examples of such medicines:

  • some muscle relaxants
  • some slee
  • some sedatives
  • some diet pills
  • some medicines for blood pressure, allergies, inflammations, fungal infections and nausea
  • some painkillers
  • some antihistamines (cold and flu or hay fever medicines)
Drugs affect each person differently

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on how any new medicines may affect your driving. While on medication:

  • carefully read and follow the advice on the labels of your medicines
  • don’t combine the medicine with alcohol
  • only take the prescribed doses
  • check with your doctor or pharmacist if the label states the medicine may cause drowsiness
  • don’t treat yourself with additional medicines (or other remedies)

If your medicine affects your reflexes, your driving ability, or your ability to concentrate - contact your doctor or pharmacist. Refrain from driving if you aren’t sure how a new drug may affect you.

Caught drug driving

Police are at liberty to undertake roadside saliva testing to detect speed, ecstasy and cannabis use. You can be tested at any time, anywhere.

If suspected of using drugs, a police officer can require you to provide blood for a drug test.

Blood samples are always taken if a person is sent to the hospital after a crash and may be tested for drugs.

Don’t mix!

Mixing medications, drugs or alcohol can be very dangerous, and might even be deadly. Combining drugs with alcohol will impair you much more than either one on its own.

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