Just a day after singer George Michael was jailed for driving after taking a cocktail of illegal and prescription drugs, GEM Motoring Assist has published a leaflet detailing the possible dangers of driving under the influence of drugs.
The 'Don't Motor on Meds' leaflet reveals that driving under the influence of drugs – including those prescribed by a GP or bought at a chemist – could lead to a criminal offence.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 says, 'You must not drive under the influence of drugs or medicine', and GEM warns that such an offence would be dealt with in the same manner as a drink-driving offence – with similar penalties.
According to a poll carried out by the organisation, 12% of drivers admitted to not realising they could be breaking the law if they drove while affected, while almost a third said they regularly took medicines and drove.
Find out if your medicines can affect your driving
Three in 10 people said they did not know how to find out if medicines were likely to affect their driving, but GEM advises that it is a driver's legal duty to find out if any drug – even one prescribed by a GP – will affect their driving; anyone concerned about the possible effect of drugs on their driving should speak to their GP.
David Williams MBE, CEO of GEM Motoring Assist, said, 'Many people taking prescribed or over-the-counter medication do not realise the effect this could have on them as a driver. Even certain headache tablets can make you feel drowsy, yet often, even though the packet states ‘drowsy', there is no warning that driving is not advisable and, surprising as it may seem, many individuals wouldn't make the connection themselves.'
The poll also revealed that seven out of 10 people thought that they were not given enough information about medicines and driving when given prescriptions, and 25% admitted to being confused by the warnings on the packaging.
Williams said: 'I cannot express how worrying it is that the pharmaceutical companies do not have to indicate if driving could be a risky business.
'While many drivers do act responsibly, our survey seemed to highlight the feeling that there is a lack of readily available information for those who want to know more about medication they may be taking.'
The 'Don't Motor on Meds' leaflet is available free of charge at www.motoringassist.com/motoronmeds
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