Almost a third of crash victims in 2013 had taken prescription medication

Internal RSA report finds prescription sedatives are almost as common as alcohol in road deaths

Almost a third of crash victims in 2013 had taken prescription medication

File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

Pharmacists are warning drivers to be aware of possible dangers when taking prescribed medications, as almost a third of crash victims in 2013 had taken some form of prescription medicine.

The internal RSA report, obtained by RTE under the Freedom of Information Act, found that prescription sedatives are almost as common as alcohol in road deaths.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is urging drivers to be aware of the dangers of driving while taking medicines, and advises that anyone taking medication, particularly medicines which can cause drowsiness, should consult their pharmacist about whether it is safe to drive.

Caitriona O’ Riordan, a pharmacist and member of the Executive Committee of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said today that this data was very disturbing.

“Neither the Gardaí nor the RSA know if the medications that the unfortunate crash victims concerned were taking had been prescribed or were obtained illegally, but the key point is that there are possible side-effects from some medications", she said. "it’s vitally important that before driving people should ask their pharmacist if there is any possibility that the medicine may impact on their ability to drive safely."

The report examined 109 coroners' reports from 2013.

It found that while 31% of the people who died in road crashes that year had taken alcohol, 30% had taken prescription medication, and toxicology reports also revealed that 20% had taken illegal drugs.

The Medical Bureau for Road Safety said motorists who take prescription medication in accordance with their doctor's advice should have no concerns about driving.

Gardaí have warned that anybody whose driving is impaired by any intoxicant, including prescription medication, can be prosecuted.