TAKING a pill to avoid getting hay fever could get you BANNED from driving.
It has been revealed how certain common over-the-counter allergy medication how antihistamines can have a detrimental affect on you driving.
Hay fever sufferers could face prosecution for driving under the influence of legal drugs which are being taken to alleviate symptoms.
Over a third of drivers in the UK suffer from hay fever which makes these revelations particularly concerning as the affects of these medicines can inhibit reaction times and even sight.
According to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society many prescription and over-the-counter medications for hay fever, can have side-effects.
Drivers who suffer from hay fever have admitted feeling their driving impaired by a feeling of drowsiness (55 per cent), feeling of lethargy (35 per cent) and blurred visions (35 per cent).
New data has also revealed that four per cent of these motorists have actually had an accident as a result of taking these types of medication.
Research from the leading price comparison site confused.com reveals that in 2015, 2,090 motorists were charged with drug-driving, compared with just 870 in 2014.
One in seven have also admitted to drink driving, albeit the majority admitted that it was medication they were taking opposed to illegal narcotics.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com says: “It’s worrying to see that so many motorists admit to driving whilst under the influence of drugs (15%) – both prescription (12%) and illegal (3%).
“This is particularly alarming given the current time of year, especially as more than a third (34%) of motorists admit to suffering from hay fever, with many resorting to medication to help combat the symptoms – despite the potential risks of drowsiness and reduced concentration levels.
“Our advice is simple, before taking any medication people should always read the safety leaflet before driving.
“Or if unsure they should ask the pharmacist or err on the side of caution and don’t drive, as road safety for themselves and others should be a top priority for any driver.”
An NPCC spokesperson said: “If this kind of medication affects your driving it could be a drug driving offence, but as with all roads policing matters there is room for officer discretion to determine how severe a danger to the public or other roads users is presented.
“From a police perspective we would advise people to check the labels of any medication or consult with a doctor before attempting to drive.
“As for the penalty that can be involved, that isn’t something we can comment on as it would be a matter for the courts to determine.”
But there are further options to help motorists whilst driving according to one price comparison site.
Scrapcarcomparison.co.uk, whose network of buyers resell and salvage cars, say many drivers are unaware of the need to change their air conditioning filtering – and many never have.
“Cabin or Pollen filters are built in cars to help you breathe cleaner and pollen free air,” said a spokesperson.
“They will clean the air that you breathe that comes into your car, remove allergens and help trap airborne particles like pollen and dust, stopping them entering the car.
“In spring and summer, the pollen counts are higher so the situation can be even worse for hay fever sufferers.
“A filter can clog every 12 months so ideally you should look to replace it from an allergy or bacteria perspective.
“A huge amount of the cars we see for resell or salvage look like they’ve never had replacement air filters in all their years.”
According to NHS.co.uk chlorphenamine and diphenhydramine are the tablets which are more likely to cause drowsiness.
Tablets containing loratadine or cerititizine are less likely to cause you to feel drowsy, however, certain individuals body’s may react differently to the tablets.
The new penalties, introduced in 2015, for drug driving are: 12-month driving ban; a criminal record; and a fine of up to £5,000, or up to 6 months in prison, or both.
Your driving licence will also show you’ve been convicted for drug driving which will last for 11 years.
Under the new law they also outlined eight common medicines you should check with your doctor about before driving:
-amphetamine, eg dexamphetamine or selegiline
-morphine or opiate and opioid-based drugs, eg codeine, tramadol or fentany