Sleeping Pills Double Car Crash Risk

Some 9 million Americans use sleeping pills, and that could place them at risk for auto accidents.


Some 9 million Americans use sleeping pills, and that could place them at risk for auto accidents.[/caption] If a good night’s sleep proves elusive, you may be tempted to turn to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. But if you drive daily, you’ll want to reconsider.


New research shows that taking sedative sleeping pill such as Ambien, Desyrel or Restoril can nearly double the risk of an automobile accident for new users. A study conducted by the University of Washington in Seattle examined prescription records and automobile crash record of more than 400,000 registered Washington state drivers who had a drug benefit in the Group Health Cooperative insurance plan. Results showed that the risk of a crash related to sedative use is similar to the crash risk associated with driving drunk, and that the risk continued for up to a year among regular users.


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 recommendation to avoid driving the day after taking Ambien CR, an extended-release form of the drug. The move was prompted by complaints and report of daytime drowsiness in patients who had taken Ambien the evening prior. FDA officials noted studies that showed blood levels of the drug in some patients remained high enough the next morning to “to impair activities that require alertness, including driving.” Research shows that women are at higher risk because their bodies process the drug more slowly than men’s bodies.


If you have been prescribed sedatives, talk with your doctor about the risks and be sure to follow instructions precisely. If you’ve suffered injury or loss in a car accident or other incident that you believe was caused by daytime drowsiness resulting from sedative use, contact an experienced dangerous drugs attorney. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell, serving North and Central Florida and South Georgia, can be reached at 800-251-1111.