UK Government

Department for Transport: Drivers urged to check effects of medicines

Press Release   •   Jan 07, 2010 11:12 GMT

Drivers will be warned about the potential effects of medicines in a new THINK! campaign launched by Road Safety Minister Paul Clark today.

One million leaflets will be distributed through 2,600 Boots stores while medicine bags will be labelled with stickers prompting drivers to check with their doctor or pharmacist that they are safe to drive while taking their medicines.

This follows a major TV, radio and online campaign in August 2009 to target the irresponsible minority who drive while under the influence of illegal drugs.

Paul Clark said:

"We have already run a hard-hitting campaign to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs.  But it is not just illegal drugs which can affect your driving.  Some medicines may cause drowsiness and impair judgement, increasing the risk of an accident.

"That is why we are raising awareness of the potential effects of over-the-counter and prescription medicines on driving ability with this new campaign and I am delighted that Boots UK is helping us to get this message direct to their customers."

Paul Bennett, Boots Professional Standards Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, said:

“It is vital that anyone taking medicine follows the instructions properly and continues to take their course.  However, people also need to take into account the potential effects their medicine may have on their ability to drive.”

“Regulations already require that a warning is included in the patient information of every medicine which may have such an effect.   However, we hope that providing additional information when people collect medicines will prompt them to find out more from their doctor or pharmacist.”

Medicines are important in the treatment and prevention of illnesses.  Those taking medicine to treat an illness should follow the instructions properly and continue to take it as directed to maintain their health.  Anyone with questions about their medicines should contact a health professional for advice.

If this campaign is successful it will then be rolled out to other pharmacies nationwide.

For more information about the THINK! campaign please visit: www.dft.gov.uk/think/drugdrive.

Notes to editors

1.  Presence of medicine in the body does not mean that the driver is impaired.  However, studies in the UK suggest that the presence of medicines in drivers killed in road accidents is around 6% (Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, 1997).

2.  Fitness to drive: a guide for health professionals can be downloaded at:  www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/drs/fitnesstodrive

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Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

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