Medication impairing safe driving: knowledge, attitude and behaviour of consumers and patients.

Vervloet, M., Dijk, L. van. Medication impairing safe driving: knowledge, attitude and behaviour of consumers and patients. European Journal of Public Health: 2007, 17(suppl. 2) 161. Abstract. EUPHA Conference "The Future of Public Health in the Unified Europe", 11-13 October 2007, Helsinki, Finland.
Background: Promoting road safety is one of the aims of the Dutch road safety policy. The role of medication impairing safe driving (tranquilizers, sleep medication, tricyclic antidepressants and first generation antihistamines) in traffic accidents is underexposed and not well known. Previous research has focused on views of the general population on drugged driving. However, attitude and behaviour of patients who use these drugs remain unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate differences in knowledge, attitude and behaviour between the general population and patients regarding use of medication related to driving. Methods: A recently developed written questionnaire was completed by 986 consumers participating in a national representative consumer panel who did not use driving impairing medication (non-users), and 137 patients approached by pharmacies who did (users). The questions aimed to: (1) test the level of knowledge (types/effects of impairing drugs, estimation of traffic injury risk, information received from physician/ pharmacist), (2) measure attitudes towards policy, other drivers, own driving behaviour and (3) estimate driving
frequency and report on behavioural changes. Chi-square tests and Student’s t-tests were used to test differences between users and non-users. Results: Overall, the level of correct knowledge about medication impairing safe driving was high in both groups. However, attitudes differed significantly between users and non-users. For example: whereas 93% of the non-users agreed that drugged driving negatively affects other drivers’ safety, 64% of the users shared this opinion. In addition, 25% of the users agreed that the risks of drugged driving are being exaggerated, while 8% of the non-users agreed on this. As for information given by physician/pharmacist, only 56% of all users were informed about risks. Furthermore, 84% did not change their driving behaviour after being informed. The main reason for this was that patients stated not to notice any negative effects on their driving skills. Conclusions: Differences in attitude towards medication impairing safe driving between users and non-users are clear. Non-users are very strict, they have the overall opinion that users should always take into account their medication in their driving behaviour. Once non-users become users, the attitude softens and the acceptance of drugged driving grows: patients (wrongfully or not) feel able to drive. In promoting road safety, raising the awareness of impaired ability to react in traffic due to medication in patients and professionals is needed. (aut. ref.)