A recent survey in the UK revealed that 70% of drivers suffer the effects of hay fever and the season reaching its peak this month, road safety professionals are warning motorists about the dangerous effects that medication can have on their driving ability.
For drivers, hay fever is much more than an inconvenience. If you suffer badly, you probably shouldn't drive. A sneezing fit can be dangerous on the road, hay fever drugs can also be risky, drivers should be careful choosing over the counter remedies, some hay fever medicines can make you very sleepy so drivers should be careful to choose non-drowsy versions. If you're in any doubt ask the chemist for advice.
Hay fever, cold and flu treatments, pain killers, antihistamines, and even some eye drops, can all affect the central nervous system in a way that causes drowsiness, reducing the ability to concentrate on driving. Not only that, but driving under the influence of drugs, even those prescribed by a doctor, is a serious criminal offence.
Noel Gibbons road safety Officer said: "Many motorists don't realise the effect that prescription or over-the-counter medication can have on their driving. With hay fever season in full swing, there could be many people breaking the law without realising.
"Most medicine packaging doesn't stress enough how driving may be impaired, so it is every motorist's duty to check before they start taking medication that it is safe and, if it isn't, there are often alternative medicines which won't impair driving. With a lack of awareness around drugs and driving, motorists should talk to their doctor or pharmacist about the effect of their medication."
As a result you should avoid anti-histamines(that make you drowsy) if you're planning to get behind the wheel. Instead, follow these top tips to stay safe behind the wheel this summer:
· Keep windows closed whilst driving, as pollution exacerbates hay fever - pollen grains become attached to particles from car exhausts, increasing their allergy-inducing effect.
· Avoid going outdoors in early evening when the pollen counts are usually highest.
· Wear wrap-around sunglasses, or glasses, when outdoors or behind the wheel.
· Check your car's ventilation system to ensure a clean air flow.
· Ensure the air-con is checked annually, to help keep dust, moisture and pollen to a minimum.
· Vacuum your car regularly and clean surfaces with a damp cloth.
· Non-sedative anti-histamine tablets and nasal steroid sprays can be taken regularly, starting at least two weeks before the hay fever season starts.
· Ensure any medication you take is non-drowsy before you drive.
· Don't allow pets to travel in the car as exposure to allergens, such as animal hairs and house dust mites, can exacerbate hay fever.