Recently, a woman from the Sunshine Coast was found guilty of driving dangerously while adversely affected by prescription medication. This, according to reports, has caused the death of two mechanics who were working on a broken-down bus at Woombye in April 2022.
As fleet managers, one of our crucial roles is ensuring the safety of their drivers and the public on the road. One often overlooked aspect of driver safety is the use of prescribed medications.
Many drivers rely on prescription drugs to manage various medical conditions, and these can have a significant impact on their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
Understanding Prescribed Medication
Prescribed medications are a vital part of modern healthcare, helping individuals manage a wide range of medical conditions, from chronic diseases to temporary illnesses. These medications can include pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, blood pressure medications, and more. When used as prescribed and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, they can significantly improve a person’s quality of life.
However, it’s essential to recognise that prescribed medications can also have side effects that may affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Common side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, impaired coordination, reduced alertness, and slowed reaction times. In some cases, these side effects can be severe and compromise a driver’s ability to safely navigate the road.
Legal and Regulatory Considerations
Fleet managers must be aware of the legal and regulatory considerations related to prescribed medications and driver safety. Laws and regulations vary from one jurisdiction to another, but they often have a common goal: ensuring that drivers are not impaired while operating a vehicle.
In many places, it is illegal to drive while impaired by any substance, including prescription medications. This means that a driver taking medication that affects their ability to drive may be in violation of the law. Fleet managers should educate themselves about these laws and ensure that their drivers are aware of them as well.
Specific information for different states and territories can be found below:
- ACT:Access Canberra
- NSW:Transport for NSW
- NT:Northern Territory Government information and services
- Qld:Queensland Government
- SA:Department for Infrastructure and Transport
- Tas:Transport Tasmania
- WA:Main Roads
The Role of Healthcare Professionals
Fleet managers should encourage open communication between their drivers and healthcare professionals. When a driver is prescribed a new medication, it’s crucial for them to consult their doctor or pharmacist about the potential side effects and whether it is safe to drive while taking the medication.
Healthcare professionals can often provide guidance on when it is safe to drive while taking a particular medication and may suggest alternative treatments or dosages if driving impairment is a concern. Fleet managers should emphasise the importance of following medical advice and seeking alternative transportation options when necessary.
Education and Training
Education and training are essential components of addressing the impact of prescribed medications on driver safety. Fleet managers should provide ongoing training and information to their drivers on this topic. This may include:
- Awareness of side effects: Drivers should be educated about the potential side effects of their prescribed medications and how they can affect their driving abilities.
- Reporting obligations: Drivers should know their obligation to report any medication changes or side effects that could impact their driving abilities to their fleet manager.
- Alternative transportation: Encourage drivers to use alternative transportation options when their medication may impair their driving abilities.
- Regular check-ins: Conduct regular check-ins with drivers to ensure they are managing their medications and their potential side effects responsibly.
Prescribed medications, while essential for managing various medical conditions, can introduce potential risks if not managed responsibly. Ultimately, a collaborative approach between fleet managers, drivers, and healthcare providers is key to keeping vehicles-as-a-workplace as safe as possible.
Did you find this article helpful? Give it a ‘like’ by clicking the ‘heart’ button above!