At the beginning of the summer, you wouldn’t have thought twice about taking the kids for a walk in Kaw Point Park. But now that every day is a constant battle between you and the weather, you need to do some preparation before stepping out of the air conditioning and into the pollen-filled outdoors. You pop your allergy pills, and tell the kids to get ready—but did you read the label on the bottle before getting behind the wheel?
Allergy Medications Contribute to Dozens of Car Accidents Every Year
If you’ve never read the warnings on your prescription or over-the-counter allergy medication, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that a shocking number of drivers do not read the warning labels on their allergy medications before getting behind the wheel. Now that pollen counts are on the rise, it is prime season for accidents caused by drowsiness, vision problems, and other common side effects of allergy medications.
Here are a few disturbing facts about allergy medications and drugged driving crashes:
- Label ignorance. Nearly half of drivers surveyed admit that they do not check their drug labels before driving—and some even admitted to ignoring warnings not to drive.
- Unawareness. Thirty percent of responding drivers said that they had no idea that allergy medications could impair the ability to drive (with more men surprised by the fact than women).
- Prevention and cures. It’s not just preventing the allergy attack that is risky, but treating it as well. Up to 60 percent of drivers were unaware that taking decongestants and cough medicines could potentially impair driving.
- Over-the-counter “safety.” Many allergy sufferers make the mistake of assuming that if a remedy is available over-the-counter, then it is not as harmful as a prescription drug—in particular, that it will not have any sedative side effects.
How Allergy Sufferers Can Stay Safe on Kansas City Roads
This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to choose between itchy eyes and taking the wheel. There are many safe alternatives that can block allergens while keeping your head clear. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which antihistamines can cause drowsiness, haziness, or any effect that can slow mental processing times—and if you know someone who is suffering during the high-pollen days, be sure to share this article with them on Facebook or Google+ to open their (itchy) eyes!