Driving While Impaired: Shocking New AAA Study


A new study from the AAA Foundation has found that nearly 50% of U.S. drivers over the age of 16 may be driving while under the influence of a potentially driver impairing (PDI) medication. The study considered several classes of drugs, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Cough medicines
  • Antidepressants
  • Opioid pain medications
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Sleep aids
  • Amphetamines

Each of these drugs can impair a driver’s reaction time, vehicle control, and attention. Frighteningly, in this most recent study, close to 40% of those who admitted to driving while on a PDI medication admitted to being on more than one while behind the wheel, compounding the risks to themselves and others.


When an intoxicated driver causes harm, they can be held liable for all related damages. But what happens when they don’t know they are posing a risk?

According to AAA, most of the respondents in the study claim they were not warned of potential driving complications by their healthcare provider. This issue becomes more common when multiple medications have been prescribed.

Patients are entitled to truthful information about the risks of every medication they take. Healthcare providers and pharmacists have an ethical and legal responsibility to provide patients with drug facts, potential interactions, common side effects, and possible complications. Failure to do so can place the patient and everyone else on the road at heightened risk.

The National Institutes of Health reports that nearly 44% of drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes test positive for legal and illicit drugs.


Who is liable for a motor vehicle accident is reliant on several factors. During the investigative phase of these claims, a lawyer will carefully look into all potential causes of the accident to determine where fault should lie: with a driver, healthcare provider, or multiple parties.

Single-vehicle accidents involving PDI medications and those involving multiple cars are possible. If you have been a victim of either and have questions about your rights and options, use our directory to find a qualified attorney near you who will review your claim and help you decide on the best course of action.