Driving and pharmacy medications

Many ageing road users are unaware the pharmacy medication they are taking could be impairing their driving, particularly if mixed with alcohol.

Ageing road users face an increased risk of fatality and serious injury in a crash due to their fragility and other issues associated with ageing. A high proportion of ageing driver fatalities involve multiple vehicle accidents, with many occurring at intersections.  Complex traffic situations become more demanding, particularly in combination with deteriorating hearing, vision, reaction time and/or mobility.

Recent research reviewed by the TAC also highlights there is a higher prevalence of medication usage for health purposes as drivers' age, however the use of these medications can often and unknowingly, impair driving ability.  These materials have been prepared to help drivers understand that some pharmacy medicines can impair their driving.

Download the brochure here:

What to do

  • always ask if it is safe to drive on your medication
  • read labels to see if your medication may affect your driving
  • talk with your doctor or pharmacists to see how medications may affect your driving
  • ask if there is a medicine that may be less impairing
  • be aware medicines may affect your driving more when you first start taking them.
  • don't stop medication or alter your dose without speaking to your doctor first
  • don't drink alcohol if you are planning to drive
  • use alternative transport such as public transport or taxi 

Medicines that can impair driving

Commonly used for Type of medicine Generic name Example brand name
Anxiety, sleep problems Benzodiazepines Alprazolam Xanax

Oxazepam Serepax
Anxiety, sleep problems, epilepsy
Diazepam Valium

Clonazepam Rivotril
Sleep problems Other sleep medicines Nitrazepam Mogadon

Zolpidem Stilnox

Temazepam Temaze
Depression, bladder problems, migraine and/or nerve pain Tricyclic antidepressants Amitriptyline Endep

Doxepin Deptran
Depression, anxiety Monoamine oxidase (MAO) Inhibitors Moclobemide Aurorix
Depression, anxiety Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) Escitalopram Lerxapro

Fluoxetine Prozac

Sertraline Zoloft
Depression Other antidepressants Mirtazapine Avanza
Psychotic conditions (eg schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder) Antipsychotics Haloperidol Serenace

Olanzapine Zyprexa

Quetiapine Seroquel
Allergies, cough, cold and flu symptoms Sedating antihistamines Chlorpheniramine Codral original Cold and Flu, Cough Day and Night capsules

Brompheniramine Demazine Cough and cold Relief Elixir
Allergies, itchiness, motion sickness, sedation
Promethazine Phenergan
Allergies, cough, cold and flu symptoms, sleep problems
Diphenhydramine Benadryl for the Family original syrup, Snuzaid

Doxylamine Dozile
Hay fever, skin rash Less sedating antihistamines Cetirizine Zyrtec

Fexofenadine Telfast

Loratadine Claratyne
Epilepsy Anticonvulsants Primidone Mysoline
Pain relief Opioids Codeine Nurofen Plus, Panadeine Forte

Oxycodone Oxycontin

Morphine Anamorph

Note. The medicines listed above give generic examples and brand names for each type of medicine but does not cover all medicines that can impair your driving. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you more advice. 

How Can Medicines Affect Driving

The impairing effect of some medicines can be equivalent to a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.05% or more so it is important to understand how your medicines affect your ability to drive.

Common side effects of some medications are:

  • drowsiness or tiredness
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • blurred vision
  • shakiness or unsteadiness
  • confusion and poor concentration
  • slower reaction time
  • nausea
  • mood changes and anxiety