Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, even if you don’t hear about it as often.

Drugged driving includes not only illegal substances, but also prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

A drug is any medicine or other substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body. In other words, it changes how your body and mind function.

How drugs can affect you

Drugs have the potential to:

• Lessen your sense of coordination.

• Weaken your level of consciousness.

• Slow your reaction time.

• Cause dizziness.

• Make you tired or sleepy.

• Hinder your vision.

Know the side effects

That is why it’s vital to understand how to take your medication and the possible side effects of your medication before choosing to drive. You need to understand, among other warnings, the time of day you should take your medication and whether you should eat or drink when you take it.

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This understanding is especially important if you are taking a new prescription for the first time or if the dosage of your medication has recently changed.

Side effects are listed on the prescription label or the instructions from the pharmacy. If you’re struggling to understand the side effects, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Medical marijuana

Unlike recreational marijuana, medical marijuana is legal in Delaware and can give you side effects. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that, after alcohol, marijuana is “the substance most often associated with impaired driving.”

Research also has found an association between marijuana use and car crashes that stem from the drug’s ability to slow reaction time, lessen coordination, distort perception and diminish the ability to make quick decisions.

So take time to learn about the side effects of your drugs before you get behind the wheel. Taking that smart step will help you arrive at safer decisions and, wherever you are headed, arrive alive.

This article appeared in the Traffic Safety newsletter of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.