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Above the influence: tips from IAM RoadSmart


Illegal substances can affect drivers in several ways, making them unfit for the road. But it is not only illegal drugs that we should be wary of. Prescribed or over the counter drugs can have similar negative affect’s on motorists too and driving while impaired by medication could see you banned from using the road. This week’s tips give advice on riding and driving with prescribed medication, from IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards Richard Gladman.

  • Always ask your GP when the medication is prescribed and then confirm the information by reading your medication leaflet before you take it.This can often be overlooked as more pressing medical matters are at the forefront of your mind. If you need further details or advice about your medication ask the pharmacist or get back in touch with your medical professional. Some drugs are based on banned substances but if you stick to a prescription you will not be breaking the law, but your driving can still be impaired


  • If you feel in any way affected by your medication don’t take the chance; use a designated driver or use a taxi.Don’t risk your or others lives by driving when your concentration or reactions are impaired


  • If you are not sure whether you can drive with your medication, don’t get behind the wheel. Use public transport to get to your destination. The government offer advice and also has a list of prescribed medications you are not allowed to drive with, visit


  • Don’t stop taking your medication. This tip may seem obvious but some motorists may choose the convenience and luxury of driving over health. Ask your healthcare professional if an alternative is available and if not, plan around not being mobile


  • Remember some untreated medical conditions and allergies will also affect your ability to drive. The itchy streaming eyes often caused by hay fever can make driving hazardous, add to that a sneezing fit and you are a real danger. Manage your symptoms and avoid driving when this is at its worst. Pollen eases in the evening

Richard said: “The legislation in relation to driving with prescription drugs is there for all of our protection. More so than any other impairment, drivers find themselves falling foul of the effects of their prescribed medication by making a decision to take a chance. It is often through lack of knowledge that they find themselves in this position. If you are taking medication check what the side effects are or might be and plan accordingly.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Richard Gladman is IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards.
  2. IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.

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