Your sleep medication could put you at risk of causing a car accident

Many of our readers know somebody who routinely takes sleeping pills or themselves take sleeping pills, at least on occasion. As an aid for getting better rest at night, such medication may work well, but there are certain risks, as with every drug. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Washington, increased risk of getting in a car accident may be one of these risks.  

The study, which was based on examination of medical and driving records, found that those who had taken one of several commonly prescribed sleep medications had an increased risk of getting in a car accident. The range of increased risk found  in the study is quite large—anywhere from 27 percent to over 200 percent, with Ambien presenting the highest risk. 

The problem is particularly prone to arise during morning drives for those who have too much of the medication in their bloodstream to be alert behind the wheel. Obviously, nodding off driving in rush hour could have some dangerous consequences. The research stated that the risk would be equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.06 and 0.11, which is quite high.

Being that 8.6 million Americans are estimated to be taking sleeping pills, the risk is not a negligible one. Manufacturers of the drugs say that patients need to be sure that they speak with their physician to get the right dose and to make sure they understand the side effects.

In our next post, we’ll explore the possible ramifications of sleep pill use in personal injury litigation.

Source: NBC News, “Sleeping Pill Use Raises Car Crash Risk, Study Finds,” Maggie Fox, June 11, 2015. 

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