Your doctor or pharmacist has warned you before, certain medication shouldn’t be taken before driving. On a more general note, you should probably avoid all medication before driving.

Quattroruote, in collaboration with the head of the emergency department at Humanitas hospital, Dr. Antonio Voza, conducted a practical demonstration on the Vairano (PV) track to prove the hazard of taking medication before driving. The question was, what happens to the reflexes of those who are behind the wheel after taking medication such as muscle relaxants, sleeping pills or antihistamines?

During the test, the volunteers had to perform tests between obstacles and avoid a sudden obstacle to park in reverse. Their reaction times were also registered with a light stimulus.


What medications should I avoid before driving?

All medicines may endanger reflexes and reduce attention for those behind the wheel. Quattroruote in collaboration with Humanitas made a compelling case when testing the effects of three groups of medications taken before you get behind the wheel.

Dont Take medication before driving. A bottle of prescription drugs on a white background. The open pill bottle is spilling a variety of pills out onto the white surface with a set of car keys beside it. This concept illustrates driving under prescription drugs, abusing narcotics, DUI, dangers of prescription drug use.

The dangers of taking muscle relaxants or antihistamines before driving

Muscle relaxant medication used for muscle aches and antihistamines, which are prescribed to combat allergies had a similar result on the driver. The following was noted during the tests with volunteers that had taken muscle relaxants or antihistamines.

  • There was a general slowdown in movements made evident by their sleepiness.
  • Loss of steering control and inability to overcome the slalom with cones.

In both cases the parties realized that their condition and driving ability was altered considerably and had to pay more attention to their movements and speed, hence driving with more caution. The volunteers who took the antihistamine however made a quick recovery as the intense breathing enhanced the drug by oxygenating the brain.

In both cases though the danger of taking such medication before driving was apparent. Both of these drugs are also commonly used during early hours of the day, either because we want to reduce the muscle pain before a long day or avoid allergic reaction in spring for example.

The risks of taking sleeping pills before driving

As expected the volunteers who had taken the sleeping pill medication presented the worst side effects during the test. Sleeping pills or similar medication should be taken eight hours before driving at least. However the volunteer had to face the test after only three hours of administration. The driver was unable to perform the test with success since their reaction time were very dilated and they lacked the ability to concentrate. Although you may experience a general improvement with time, the effect of the sleeping pill continues even after five hours during which difficulties were still encountered in the test with the pins.

The test was a demonstration that many types of drugs involve considerable risks and hazards for drivers who are using them. It is important that controls are performed not only for the presence of alcohol, but also for drugs used commonly.



Before driving it is important to avoid substances that can slow down or alter the state of the body, particularly your senses and reflexes. Muscle relaxants, sleeping pills and antihistamines are three categories of drugs that should not be taken before driving because they cause a general slow down in reactions to external stimuli.