Concentration, quick reactions and sharp observation: a driver needs all these when on the road. "Medication can considerably impair" one's ability to drive safely warns OAMTC traffic doctor, Dr Raimund Saam.

The consequences can be serious. According to international studies, 10 to 20 percent of all road accidents where there is injury to persons involve people driving under the influence of medication. The OAMTC traffic doctor has drawn up a list of the most common medicines and evaluated them according to their risk factor.

At the top of the list of medicines which present a danger for drivers are tranquilisers and sleeping tablets and also certain remedies for coughs, dizziness and allergies.

But quite normal flu medicines can also have an effect on one's perspective faculty, speed of reaction and ability to drive safely. "Fortunately, there is now a choice of medicines available to drivers", says Dr Saam. For instance, on a five-point scale, with a risk factor of 4, the flu remedy and painkiller, Influbene, in most cases leads to unfitness to drive, while Aspirin with factor 2 does not normally affect the driver much at all. In contrast to this, the potency drug Viagra is evaluated at risk factor 3 and therefore could be dangerous for anyone taking the wheel.

Should You Drive?

"As soon as one has to take medicine, one should analyse one's fitness to drive" advises the traffic doctor. Influenza and headaches can impair this considerably. Combinations of several different medicines are particularly dangerous. When in doubt or if the instructions state that the medication may affect driving ability, a doctor or a pharmacist should be consulted.

Excitement or stress can also cause accidents, and in this connection the OAMTC doctor gives the following advice: "Never take the wheel immediately after a family quarrel or a heated argument; a short walk or a few relaxation exercises can work wonders in such situation." Rather than putting oneself and others in danger unnecessarily, alternatives could include taking a taxi or using public transport.

Source: OAMTC (Austria) our Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) affiliate club.