The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are debating the use of blood tests after vehicle accidents to find out if common over-the-counter medications impair driver capabilities.
In a story first reported by The Washington Post, the NTSB said it has determined that 150 accidents involving cars, trucks, buses, boats, planes and trains since 1987 have been caused in part by over-the-counter or prescription drugs. However, routine testing for the presence of such drugs after accidents is currently only conducted in the aviation industry, said the agency, and it wants to know if such medications have a more widespread impact on accidents – on the road and elsewhere.
The NTSB wants medications that can impair driving ability to carry a visible warning label. The FDA, which regulates such pharmaceutical matters, said post-crash tests of drivers for medications are necessary for it to determine the medications that need such labels.
Examples of medications that impair driving ability cited by the NTSB include nighttime use of over-the-counter cold medicines that contain chlorpheniramine, over-the-counter allergy drugs that contain diphenhydramine, and prescription anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines.