Drivers unaware of hayfever risk

JonathanJune 24, 2014

A new survey has found that many drivers could be putting themselves and other road users at risk by being unaware of the effects of hayfever tablets.

Around this time of year, many people up and down the country will be taking tablets to reduce their hayfever symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy eyes. However, according to research by Brake and Direct Line, many motorists are unaware that this could be affecting their driving ability.

The survey found that just one in six drivers admit to either ignoring warnings not to drive or not checking the label at all. The news comes as we enter a season of high pollen, which will have many drivers reaching for their antihistamine packets.

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can impair your ability to drive safely, by causing drowsiness or affecting reaction times, coordination, concentration or vision. This can include not just hayfever medication, but also many painkillers, antibiotics, and cough and cold medicines.

According to the survey, some 44 per cent of drivers who use hayfever medication admit to sometimes or never checking the instructions to see if it will affect their driving ability. It also found that just under a third (30 per cent) were unaware that some hayfever and allergy medications could affect their ability to drive safely.

Brake is urging everyone that gets behind a wheel this summer to check their medication before driving, and to hang up their keys if the packet says it could be affected.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "This widespread lack of awareness among drivers is alarming, suggesting many are unwittingly posing a threat to safety on our roads. It's a particular concern at this time of year, when huge numbers of people will be using hayfever medicines, some of which can be risky if you drive. 

"All drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are fit to drive when getting behind the wheel, including not drinking alcohol, ensuring their eyesight is up to scratch, and making sure their medication is safe to drive on. If it isn't, you need to stop driving or seek an alternative medication."

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