Drivers with a cold or the flu may want to leave the car at home. Police have warned of an increase in motorists being unfit to drive because of over-the-counter remedies.
A large number of non-prescription drugs can make a driver unsafe at the wheel and police have seen an increase in the number of offenders. Drug-driving offences are actually higher at this time of year for legal substances than they are for cannabis and cocaine, according to an AOL Cars report.
Drug detection officer PC Jon Lansley in Hampshire said: “Prescription and other medications easily purchased at pharmacists, such as Night Nurse, can make drivers very drowsy and severely affect their driving.”
“These drugs make it clear they can affect driving on the labels, but often when drivers feel unwell they dose themselves up on these and don’t realise the consequences.”
The use of a new roadside drug-screening kit, which is already being used in the Hampshire area, is said to be partly to blame for the rise in legal drug offences. But Lansley said the old field impairment test (FIT) can also catch drivers out.
“These cold remedies can sometimes be safe in normal doses, but you’ll find most people take more than the recommended amount and then vision can blur and other functions vital to safe driving start to deteriorate too.
“I’d always advise to read the labels carefully and be aware that drugs – whether legal or illegal – can have a serious effect on your ability to drive.”
A new law coming on March 2nd 2015 will make it illegal for a driver to have more than a proscribed level of drugs in their system. Current law requires police to prove impairment.
Drug-driving is attributed to 200 deaths every year in the UK, according to UK government estimates. It is hoped the new roadside drug test will reduce that number and increase convictions.
A study by Cardiff University found driving with a cold was the equivalent of having three or four pints.