Over 9 million Americans use a sedative nightly to fall asleep, and research has shown that this could be placing them at risk when driving. The studies show that sleep aids can double the risk of auto accidents, especially for sedative new users.
Some of the more common prescription sleep medicines are Ambien, Restoril, and Desyrel. In 2007, the University of Washington in Seattle compared prescription and automobile crash records of clients who were registered in the Group Health Cooperative insurance plan.
There were over 400,000 participants in the study, and the results were surprising. Using sedatives every night was found to present the same risk in auto accidents that was associated with drunk driving, and if the client was a new user, the amount of risk climbed for over a year.
Ambien, in particular, has been a concern in recent years. In 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration mandated lower recommended doses, labeling changes, and a strict recommendation to avoid driving the day after taking any Ambien.
This advice was prompted by complaints of daytime drowsiness in patients who had taken Ambien the evening before. Studies by FDA officials showed that blood levels in some patients remained high enough the next morning to “to drastically impair activities that required alertness including driving.”
Women appear to be at a higher risk because their bodies process the drug more slowly. If your physician has prescribed sleep aides, discuss the possible risks. If you’ve suffered from a vehicle accident that could have been caused by daytime drowsiness, our personal injury lawyers are extremely knowledgeable in dangerous drugs.