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July 5, 1985

'Prescription drugs and driving performance'

JAMA. 1985;254(1):15-27. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360010017003

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Increased public awareness of the role that alcohol plays in traffic injuries and deaths has led several states to enact harsher penalties for driving under its influence or for serving alcohol to an already intoxicated person who then may try to drive. Less well known or understood, however, are the possible effects on driving performance of prescription and nonprescription medications. Two pioneer meetings on this latter subject were held recently, one in Europe and the other in the United States.

At the same time, the medications-and-driving question is the subject of another first step, one being taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, DC, which expects to have a provision in its forthcoming budget for an epidemiologic study. This study will gather data on drugs other than alcohol found in blood and urine specimens (JAMA [Medical News] 1985;253:3509-3517) from drivers fatally injured in traffic crashes and in a