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Study Delves Into Car Accidents And Medications

According to a new study, people who take medications and prescriptions for anxiety, insomnia or depression are at a greater risk of having car accidents than drivers not taking any sort of psychotropic drugs.

It is worth noting that these drugs alter brain functioning of patients and impair each patient’s ability to drive, researchers from Taiwan said.  Adding to that, they said doctors should think about possibly conferring with patients about not getting behind the wheel of a car while taking these medications.

“Our findings underscore that people taking these psychotropic drugs should pay increased attention to their driving performance in order to prevent motor vehicle accidents,” said Hui-Ju Tsai, the study’s lead researcher based at the National Health Research Institutes in Zhunan.

While conducting the study, researchers compared the drug usage of certain medications in nearly 5,200 people involved in major car accidents with that of more than 31,000 other people with no record or history of serious car accidents.  The study has been published in the Sept. 13, 2012 volume of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.  In addition to that, the study confirmed that people taking psychotropic drugs were more likely to be involved in car accidents.

Confirming research has shown a correlation between certain drugs used for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia known as benzodiazepines and car crashes.  In this study, researchers also studied the effects of antipsychotics, antidepressants and newer medications used for the treatment of insomnia.  The researchers said the linkage between benzodiazepines and car accidents extends to both antidepressants and drugs for insomnia.  However high doses of antipsychotics were not at all associated with increased risks of serious car accidents.

“Doctors and pharmacists should choose safer treatments, provide their patients with accurate information and consider advising them not to drive while taking certain psychotropic medications,” said Dr. Tsai.

Adding to their findings, the researchers said that their study suggested that higher dosages of these medications increased the risk of car accidents.  With the researchers concluding the study, anybody taking these drugs concerned about the increased potential for car accidents should not discontinue these drugs but were advised to consult their doctor.  Even though the research shows a positive association with car accidents and psychotropic drug use, it cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship.