See also the ‘Drink, Drugs & Seat Belts‘ fact sheet.
It is every driver’s responsibility, irrespective of age, to be sure they are not under the influence of any medication when driving. This applies equally to non-prescribed over-the-counter medication, prescribed medication, homoeopathic remedies and of course illegal drugs.
Potential side effects vary greatly and from person to person. Longer term medical issues and ones for which medication is prescribed may by law need to be advised to DVLA irrespective if one believes their driving is compromised or not. Whilst there may not be specific legal requirements by pedestrians they too should equally take care for both their own and others safety when taking any medication.
With growing numbers of both prescription and over the counter (OTC) medication, coupled with a growing older population, the potential for medication safety problems is likewise expanding. As people age they are much more likely to take both prescribed and OTC medication(s). Older bodies can respond quite differently than those of younger people and potential side effects may be more profound.
Generally doctors when prescribing will take into account many factors concerning the patient and will be very aware of drug to drug, drug to food, and allergy interactions. The situation is quite different with ‘over the counter’ medication.
Firstly, there is a misconception because it is available ‘over the counter’ it is safe, which is only true if taken in isolation exactly to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Secondly, the active ingredient of a particular medication may also be present in other medication seemingly taken for an unrelated condition hence possible unintentional ‘overdose’. This is particularly true around remedies for coughs, colds, influenza, indigestion, heartburn, gastric upsets, arthritis etc. The same can be true around homeopathic remedies.
In all cases drowsiness, slowed reactions or dizziness may present themselves as side effects, which additionally can be magnified with any alcohol intake, putting road safety in jeopardy as a driver, pedestrian, or mobility scooter / wheelchair user.
People can react quite differently to side effects from no or very little reaction to extreme reactions. The ‘self-regulation’ aspect re ‘safe to drive’ or even go out as a pedestrian becomes hugely important.
As a safeguard always check with a doctor or pharmacist regarding medication you are taking and that which you are proposing to take even if the latter is ‘over the counter’. Many manufacturers potentially sell the same medication under different trade names despite the main ingredients being the same. They may even highlight or put emphasis on different aspect of a medical condition hence you think it is different.