Recent research highlights more older drivers use medication for their health, however the use of these medications can often and unknowingly, impair driving ability.

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 ride share services.

How can medicines affect driving?

Recent research highlights older drivers use medication for their health, however the use of these medications can often and unknowingly, impair driving ability.

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.

The impairing effect of some medicines can be equivalent to a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.05% or more so it’s 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

Download a PDF of the Driving and pharmacy medications brochure here. PDF, 18.28MB

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.