New York drivers know that it is illegal to drive while drunk, but what about when someone has taken a prescription or over-the-counter sleeping aid? The law is not entirely clear, but it is obvious that driving under the influence of a sleeping aid can certainly impact an individual's ability to drive safely. There have also been numerous studies about drowsy driving and the effects it has on safe driving.
In an effort to curb drowsy driving, the federal Food and Drug Administration has asked some sleep aid manufacturers to recommend lower doses of their products. In addition, it is asking that manufacturers provide increased information on how to safely use the medication. The goal is to reduce the amount of zolpidem, the active ingredient in many sleep medications, that is left in the system the morning after taking the medicine.
While the director of the Office of Drug Evaluation I at the FDA has said that there has not been a definite link between motor vehicle accidents and zolpidem, many researchers believe that residual amounts of the drug can affect driving. If the FDA has decided to act, there must be significant concern that the medicine can cause dangerous or erratic drowsy driving.
Hopefully this new policy will reduce the number of sleepy or drowsy drivers on New York roads. Ultimately, however, it is up to the individual drivers to operate their vehicles safely. If they cannot they may be held responsible for the damage and injuries they cause. By working with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney, injured victims can file personal injury lawsuits against the drivers, drowsy or not, who caused their accidents.
Source: Health Magazine, "FDA: Lower Ambien's Dose to Prevent Drowsy Driving," Amanda Gardner, Jan. 11, 2013
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