Motorists are right to be concerned about sharing the highway with semi-truck drivers under the influence of illegal drugs. But what about the truckers who rely on legal drugs that can have potentially inhibiting side effects resulting in tragic truck accidents?
Like many people, millions of truckers suffer from seasonal allergies. Products such as antihistamines can be beneficial in relieving runny noses and blurry vision, but they can also dull the senses and make it more likely that a truck driver will cause an accident. In fact, many studies have found that both driving with allergy symptoms and driving on allergy medications can have effects similar to driving under the influence of alcohol.
Here are a few ways both truckers and drivers can reduce their accident risks during allergy season:
- Weigh the risks. In many cases, drivers are making the hard decision between two distractions: driving with watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and fatigue from allergies, or risking a foggy head and dulled reaction times due to medications. Truckers with allergies should discuss their symptoms and their driving needs with their doctors to create an effective treatment plan that minimizes road risks.
- Read the label. The U.S. Department of Transportation has provided guidelines to help truckers choose lower-risk over-the-counter allergy medications. In general, the decongestant pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) is considered safe as long as it is not combined with an antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin) or fexofenadine (Allegra). The DOT warns against taking Benedryl before driving at any time.
- Do a dry run. Some antihistamines are known to cause drowsiness, decongestants can cause confusion and impaired co-ordination—and all medications will affect people in different ways. Truckers should never take a medication for the first time before driving; instead, he or she should wait for an overnight rest break or scheduled vacation to test the effects of the drug.
- Control the cab. There are many ways truck drivers can reduce allergy symptoms without medication. On days with a high pollen count, drivers can wear masks or use the air conditioner to improve air quality. Truckers who keep their cabs clean, shower and change clothes often to remove pollens, and quit smoking can drastically cut back on allergy irritation.
Legal Drugs Are Still an Impairment to Drivers
Just because a trucker was taking a legal medication does not mean you can’t recover for your accident.
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