Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Could lower sleep aid dosages lead to fewer accidents?

The devastation caused by distracted driving led a number of states to enact laws banning the practice. The U.S. Department of Transportation also established rules prohibiting truck and commercial bus drivers from using cell phones behind the wheel. While distracted driving remains a national issue, drowsy driving has become equally as dangerous, as many drivers who rely on the sleep-aid, Ambien, were seen causing accidents.

The high risk of accidents caused by sleep deprivation led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ask drug manufacturers to lower dosages of medications including zolpidem (the active ingredient in a number of sleep aids). Federal regulators believe that remnants of zolpidem are still prominent in a person's blood stream the morning after taking it, and that it can impair one's ability to drive.

According a report, the FDA has recommended that doses for women be cut in half, and that prescriptions for men be lowered as well. In explaining the difference in prescribing recommendations, researchers said that zolpidem levels tend to expire more slowly in women, and that they were unsure of why this difference occurs.

This report comes as a revelation given the rise in sleep deprivation prescriptions. The FDA also announced that future sleep medications will be subject to driving simulation studies to measure alertness the day after taking such aids.

Ultimately, drivers who take sleeping pills or similar medications owe a duty to other drivers to avoid impairments that may limit their ability to drive safely. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver who was under the influence of sleep medication, a personal injury attorney can help.

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