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January 31, 1966

Drugs and Driving

Author Affiliations

From the Psychiatry Branch, Aerospace Medical Sciences Division, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base, Tex. Dr. Morgenstern is now with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oregon Medical Center, Portland.

JAMA. 1966;195(5):376-379. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100050084025

Our thesis is simple: Patients should be told by their physicians when drugs may decrease their driving skill. The physician's expert advice, coupled with the patient's common sense, may help to prevent accidents.

The high incidence of death and injury from automobile accidents is a major public health problem. Although accident prevention may not be as clearly a medical responsibility as the treatment of accident victims, it is appropriate that physicians be concerned with prevention at least when iatrogenic factors may be involved. Such accidents undoubtedly represent only a small fraction of the total number, but this number is not specifically known. Moreover, our knowledge of the effect of drugs on driving is limited. The development of more factual information in these areas will help to define the physician's role in preventing motor vehicle accidents.

Complexities of the Problem  The motorist requires a variety of physical and mental skills in

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