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Brake warns of dangers of over-the-counter drugs as hayfever season starts

The warning comes from Brake as it reports that a survey conducted held with Direct Line has found an alarming level of ignorance and complacency about the dangerous effects of many prescription and over-the-counter medications on driving.

The research found that one in six (17%) admit either ignoring warnings not to drive or not checking the label at all.

Meanwhile, with hayfever medication being one of the most common drugs that can impair driving, the survey also found also found that almost half (44%) of drivers who use hayfever medication admit sometimes or never checking the instructions to see if it will affect their driving ability.

Three in 10 (30%) drivers are unaware some hayfever and allergy medications can impair your ability to drive. Lack of awareness is higher among men (39%) than women (23%). Awareness is even lower for many other medications, including decongestants (47%) and cough medicines (60%). Full results below.

Brake is urging all drivers to always check the label on their medication, and not to drive if it says your driving could be affected – if unsure, consult your doctor or pharmacist, and always err on the side of caution.

As part of a new drug driving law set to come into force in autumn 2014, the Department for Transport is to make it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs and clarify the position for those who take medication.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: ‘All drivers have a responsibility to ensure they are fit to drive when getting behind the wheel, including not drinking alcohol, ensuring their eyesight is up to scratch, and making sure their medication is safe to drive on. If it isn't, you need to stop driving or seek an alternative medication.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.