What Do Truck Drivers Need To Know About Allergy Meds?
Truck drivers – what do you need to know? It’s that season again. Allergies are particularly high in the spring and for those on the road, especially truck drivers, there is a diligent need to watch what type of over-the-counter medication is consumed and how much is taken.
What Do Truck Drivers Need To Know About Allergy Meds? Are Drivers Unaware of the Dangers?
Recent studies show that one of the main causes of truck driver crashes across the country is driving while using drugs, not just illegal drugs but over-the-counter medication. These seasonal medications can affect coordination, vision, concentration, and reaction times.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, over 40 percent of truck wrecks in this nation are caused by some sort of drug use. In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 3,921 people were killed in truck crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Many truck drivers are unaware that allergy medications can affect their ability to drive safely. Symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, cough, and itchy throat due to hay fever, ragweed, and other pollens seem relatively benign compared to medication for flu and other serious ailments.
To help truck drivers distinguish between legal and harmful drugs, the FAA and DOT have provided guidelines for acceptable over-the-counter medications for allergy relief. These include Sudafed (Pseudoephedrine) and Entex (Phenylpropanolamine) as long as they are not combined with an antihistamine as well as Claritin (Loratadine), Clarinex (Desloratadine) and Allegra (Fexofenadine) while an unapproved cold medication is Benedryl.
Some medications, such as antihistamines, can easily cause a person to become sleepy and dull their senses, cause drowsiness, confusion, and impaired co-ordination and decongestants can cause insomnia and nervousness. While antihistamines are known to reduce allergy symptoms, some over-the-counter antihistamines can have the same effect on a person as consuming alcohol.
For example, one study was conducted at the University of Iowa in which 40 allergy sufferers were tested in a driver simulator after taking a standard dose of Benadryl, a placebo, or enough alcohol to be considered legally impaired. After performing routine driving tasks, the study showed that the driving performance and coherence of drivers on Benadryl performed at similar levels as those who were legally impaired.
Experts agree that drivers should not take allergy medicine from a previous year or pick out new medicines without consulting their physician or pharmacist. An annual check-up will provide vital information about weight gain or loss or other changes in a person’s make-up that needs to be taken into consideration before selecting the correct allergy medicine and dosage.
New medications should be taken when a truck driver has shut down his rig or car for the night or during vacation breaks in his schedule. During this time, any negative side effects can be treated without risking safety.
Rather than take over-the-counter allergy medicine, truck drivers can take other precautions to reduce allergy symptoms. These include wearing a mask, keeping cabs clean, showering often to remove pollens, and traveling with the window closed and using the air conditioner.
Truck drivers recognize that operating their rigs under the influence of alcohol is not only illegal, it is socially unacceptable and a threat to public safety. Some allergy medications are equally as dangerous.
Allergy sufferers that are truck drivers for a living need to seek out safe, non-drowsy medications. There are a number of over-the-counter drugs that will provide relief without jeopardizing their job, driving performance, or the public’s safety.
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