While most of us accept that drinking and riding is unacceptable and the consequences can be fatal, many of us do not fully understand the issue of drugs and riding.
Recreational drugs are difficult to detect but extensive field trials are taking place and are leading to reliable testing and roadside impairment testing.
Recent research has disclosed the presence of drugs in one form or another in a significant number of riders who have died in crashes. It must be noted though that not all the drugs detected will have impaired the drivers or have contributed to the crash.
Many people are not aware that many prescription or over the counter medicines can have a marked effect on riding ability. The list below shows some more common examples but the best advice is to always ask your doctor or pharmacist if the medicine will affect your ability to ride and always read the information sheets that come with the medicine.
The following types of drugs can cause drowsiness and impair your ability to ride:
- Some antidepressants.
- Stronger painkillers e.g. those containing codeine or dihydrocodeine.
- Powerful tranquillisers – used for the treatment of some mental disorders. Some drugs used to treat epilepsy e.g. phenobarbitone and phenytoin.
- Benzodiazepine tranquillisers e.g. tamazepam or diazepam – commonly prescribed for anxiety or insomnia.
- Some antihistamines – used in hayfever medicines.
Also: Insulin and oral anti-diabetic drugs. Low blood sugar can contribute to confusion and impairment of riding ability. Some eye drops can cause short-term blurring of vision.