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Physical ailments and medications can contribute to car accidents

A number of drivers in the Miami area of all ages, but particularly seniors, have medical conditions and/or take medications that may impact their ability to drive and potentially increase their chances of getting into an auto accident. Obviously, driving does not require being in perfect physical condition. However, it's essential to understand how your medical condition(s) and any drugs you are taking can impact things like reaction time, physical movements and other things necessary for safe driving.

Some drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter, may not impact driving ability when taken alone. However, in combination with other medications, the effect on the mind and/or body may be significant enough to impair your ability to safely operate a vehicle.

According to the Automobile Association of America, conditions such as diabetes, dementia, sleep disorders and seizures can increase a person's risk of getting into a crash. So too can some physical and vision impairments. Whether continuing to drive is necessary or simply something you wish to do, you should work with your physician to determine how you can continue to drive safely.

According to AAA, medications that have been shown to impact a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle include such seemingly-innocuous ones such as antihistamines, cough medicine and decongestants. Antidepressants, sleep medications and pain medications may also impair a person's driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has a free online tool called Roadwise Rx that lets people list all of their medications to help determine possible interactions and side effects that could affect their driving.

Discussing the potential impact of your medications and medical conditions on your driving with your physician is still important to help prevent a tragedy. Losing the ability to drive can have a serious impact on a person's independence. However, it is far better for people to decide on their own not to drive than to have their license suspended or revoked because they have injured or endangered someone else or themselves.

Source: SeniorDriving.AAA.com, "Medical Conditions & Medications" accessed Mar. 03, 2015

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