Shocking footage released by police has highlighted the risks associated with driving while on cold and flu medication.
Police pulled over a 64-year-old B-double truck driver on the Hume Highway in New South Wales as she was travelling to Sydney.
The footage shows the woman struggling to stay alert and requiring help from police to exit the truck before they initiate a breath analysis test.
Shocking footage released by police has highlighted the risks associated with driving while on cold and flu medication as a truck driver was pulled over on the Hume Highway (pictured)
The footage shows the woman struggling to stay alert and requiring help from police to exit the truck before they initiate a breath analysis test
As the woman waits for the results she needs to lean against her truck for stability and seems to doze off while standing. She also continues to sway and at one point looks like she may vomit.
Despite appearances suggesting otherwise, the woman was not drunk, returning a blood alcohol level of zero. However, she was on cold and flu medication.
Police were seen transporting the woman from the roadside, leaving her truck to be picked up at a later and safer time.
9 News spoke to Southern Highlands police Inspector John Klepzarek and pharmacist Asim Iqbal about the dangers associated with driving while affected by the drug.
‘This could have resulted in tragedy or something quite serious, whilst it isn’t alcohol or illegal drugs some of these other drugs can affect you just as badly,’ Inspector Klepzarek said.
Mr Iqbal said he warns all customers about the risks associated with driving while taking cold and flu medications.
‘Some of those ingredients can affect your ability to drive and your ability to react to certain situations,’ he said.
A Queensland University of Technology study also looked into the dangers of driving while under the influence of cold and flu medication.
‘The use of drugs that affect mood, cognition and psychomotor functioning can directly or indirectly potentially impair driving ability,’ the study reads.
‘Many over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as some cough, cold and flu day and night formulas, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories….can potentially impair driving.’
The study states that some of these medications impair driving by causing drowsiness, slowing reaction time, affecting mental concentration, shakiness or unsteadiness and affecting coordination.
Some of the factors which cause varied reactions to the drugs include the speed of metabolism, the time and strength of the dose taken and what the drug might have mixed with which was already in the system.
‘Researchers and health professionals have called for improvements to medication classification and warning systems to improve user awareness and knowledge of the effects of classes of medications on driving performance, assist appropriate medication choices and underpin legislation,’ the study states.
‘Australian research suggests there may be potential to improve Australian medication warning and labelling systems to meet consumer needs.
‘And improve driver awareness, attitudes and compliance with medication warnings.’
Motorists have been charged with culpable driving causing grievous bodily harm in the past for driving while affected by cold and flu medication.
TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE ON COLD AND FLU MEDICATION
- Remember your driving can affect not only you, but also your passengers and others on the road
- Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the medication you have been prescribed and its potential effects on your driving capabilities
- Read all the labels on all your medicines
- Keep the telephone number of your doctor or pharmacist handy
- Be aware of the dangers of mixing medications with other drugs and alcohol
- Remember to tell your doctor if you are required to drive or operate machinery for work
- Make arrangements for alternative transport
Source: QUT Research
‘If your medicine affects your driving, stop driving, not your medication the study suggests.
‘Make arrangements for alternative transport while you are taking the medication.’
It’s not yet known which brand of cold and flu tablets the driver had taken prior to being pulled over however people over the age of 65 are cautioned to seek advice from their doctor as they may be more at risk of side effects such as drowsiness.
For example, Codral Original Day and Night tablets have different active ingredients for the day and the night but both carry risks of drowsiness.
The day tablet’s active ingredients are 500 mg paracetamol, 30 mg pseudoephedrine hydrochloride and 6 mg codeine phosphate while the night tablets contain contains 500 mg paracetamol, 30 mg pseudoephedrine hydrochloride and 1.25 mg triprolidine hydrochloride.
Pseudoephedrine is known to cause side effects ranging from fast pounding or uneven heartbeat, severe dizziness or anxiety, easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness, fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms.
Codeine phosphate, contained in the day tablets, also has side effects of drowsiness, making both day and night tablets a risk to take when having to drive.