Most people understand the potential dangers of driving while intoxicated. Whether impairment results from alcohol consumption or illegal drug use, most drivers avoid using substances before getting behind the wheel. However, alcohol and illegal drugs aren’t the only potential source of impairment.

Drivers all across North Carolina use perfectly legal drugs for treatment of various medical conditions. Unfortunately, those drugs can have side effects that inhibit a person’s ability to drive safely. If you use prescription drugs, this could apply to you. Here is what you need to know about car accidents and your prescription drug use.

The sobering statistics

Though drug-impaired driving may seem like a problem for illegal drug users, that is not the case. One survey conducted by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association found that almost 23% of motorists tested positive for an impairment-causing drug. That adds up to nearly a quarter of all drivers. You might assume that most of those drivers had illegal drugs in their systems, but one survey found that 10% of drivers on weekdays in the daytime had prescription or over-the-counter drugs in their system.

Legal prescription drugs can cause drowsiness or nausea as well as impair judgment and coordination. It’s easy to see how any of those factors could contribute to a car accident. Even drugs available over-the-counter can cause similar effects, making them potentially risky as well. What’s more, if you mix certain medications with alcohol or other drugs, you may become impaired even though the drug itself should have been safe.

Stop drugged driving before it starts

As with most roadway hazards, the best cure in this case is prevention. Avoid driving if you use any medication that causes impairment. If someone you know is attempting to drive while impaired, do everything in your power to stop him or her, and never get into a car with an impaired driver. If necessary, call the police to report impaired drivers. Also, be sure to wear your seat belt at all times in a vehicle as this may be the only way to protect yourself from an intoxicated driver.

Even with all of these suggestions, car accidents due to impaired driving will still happen. If you or someone you love has been hurt by an impaired driver, you have every right to hold that person accountable. A personal injury attorney can help you determine the best possible course of action.