Given some of the well-documented side effects of many prescription drugs, I'm shocked that doctors aren't warning more people to avoid driving when they are on these drugs. For example, statin drugs continue to be hyped up by drug companies as a miracle pill for high cholesterol. They are heavily promoted by drug companies who, of course, minimize the toxic side effects of these drugs and exaggerate their benefits.
One of the better-known toxic side effects of statin drugs is brain fog. It can also cause confusion, forgetfulness, and chronic muscle pain. To me, these documented side effects indicate the drug is impairing the normal function of the nervous system. And although it's just conjecture at this point, my educated guess is that this would greatly slow the reaction time of the individuals taking those drugs.
We've also got antidepressant drugs which we now know cause violent, aggressive behavior in people. Is it possible that antidepressants are part of the reason we see people losing their cool in traffic these days? I hate to use the term "road rage," because even that phrase has been overhyped, but I do think there may be a connection between antidepressant drugs and aggressive driving habits or traffic-related confrontations.
My theory is that when you have people out there driving around the cities of our nation and they're doped up on drugs, they are no doubt causing more automobile accidents because they have slower reaction times and impaired nervous system function due to the drugs. In other words, they are not the healthy, alert drivers that we should have on the roads. They're out driving around with rather obvious safety impairments. Or, in the case of antidepressants, they may be violent time bombs just ready to be ticked off by some other driver.
Nobody, to my knowledge, has done any research on this particular statistic when it comes to prescription drugs. If such research were conducted, I wouldn't be surprised to find that taking certain drugs greatly impairs a person's ability to operate a vehicle safely.
So what can we do about it? The problem is that such a large percentage of the U.S. population is doped up on these drugs that you couldn't ban them from driving because you would have tens of millions of people who would have to start using public transportation. There would hardly be anyone left on the roads if you truly enforced that kind of law. And so the only real practical solution is to let people continue driving on the roads even though they have impaired reaction times and suppressed alertness.
I think safety studies need to be conducted. We need to find out the relationship between the intake of prescription drugs and the increased risk of automobile accidents. And if that data show a strong correlation, prescription drugs need to carry strong warnings and physicians need to start warning patients not to drive when they consume these drugs.
Then again, most doctors and patients alike routinely ignore drug safety warnings. Come to think of it, cigarette packages quite blatantly tell people that smoking causes lung cancer, and the general population hasn't figured that one out yet, either. Apparently, smoking cigarettes impairs your ability to read and understand warning labels, not to mention your driving ability (have you ever noticed that the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by smokers?).
What it demonstrates, though, is that warning labels rarely change consumer behavior. If we want to make the roads safer for everyone, we have to focus on preventing disease and promoting brain-healthy foods like fish oils, spirulina, vegetables, fruits, nuts and of course cardiovascular exercise. That's how you create a nation of alert drivers who can avoid accidents.