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Truck Drivers and Prescription Medicine


As a commercial truck driver, your driving ability impacts your own life, but also the lives of everyone you share the road with. Do you take that responsibility seriously? The seriousness increases when you are on doctor prescribed medication. The medication you take will impact affect your driving, either positively or negatively.

1. 7 Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Medication can make you drowsy, lethargic or even non-responsive. Do you know the side effects of your medication? When you visit your doctor, ask these seven key questions:

  1. Why do I need this particular medication?
  2. What dosage must I take in order for it to be effective?
  3. When should I take this medicine?
  4. Will it be more or less effective at different times of day?
  5. How should I take the medicine? Should I take it with a full glass of water, a full stomach or an empty stomach?
  6. What happens if I forget a dose?
  7. What side effects will influence my driving performance?

Before taking any medication, make sure your doctor knows every prescription and pill you take. This includes all over the counter medicine (acetaminophen, ibuprofen, herbal supplements, vitamins). Different chemicals react in a way you might not have realized, thus negatively affecting your ability to drive safely.

2. Your Medication and Your Friends

Never share your medication. Even over the counter medication is not recommended to share. Why? Because you may not know everything that person takes. And even if you do know what pills and prescription the other person takes, you can’t know what adverse side affects that may occur by sharing your aspirin or vitamin E pills. Everyone responds in his or her own unique way to medicine. What may make you feel alert may put another person to sleep. 

For all commercial vehicle drivers, it is unsafe to take any narcotic type medication. The side effects can include drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, lack of focus, lack of concentration, lack of stamina.

3. How Medication Affects Your Driving Performance

Make sure your doctor knows that you drive a commercial motor vehicle for a living. Tell them all the responsibilities that come along with that job, such as personally having to throw chains to secure a load of logs, hooking/unhooking trailers, etc.

Talk to your physician about alternative treatments that might be more in line with your driving job and have a less negative impact. Of course, there will be some alternative treatments that will have a more adverse affect that prescription medication, so be well informed.

4. Life Style Changes

If you are taking a medication for a long-term illness, such as non-insulin dependent diabetes or high blood pressure, ask your doctor what changes you can make to improve your health and thus come off the medication. 

5. Have a Two-Way Conversation with Your Doctor

Your doctor is only as affective as the information your provide them. If you withhold something you think is embarrassing, you might be preventing your doctor from giving you the best course of treatment.

6. Did You Fail Your DOT Medical Certification

If you have been told you did not pass your medical DOT certification exam due to Vision, diabetes or impaired limb function, look into the FMCSA’s programs on these three health areas. For instance, a driver who completes, and passes, the Skill Performance Evaluation program can drive a CMV across state lines if they have been fitted with (and actually wear) the correct prosthetic device and can demonstrate driving competency. In addition, a Federal Diabetes and Vision Exemption Program allow applicants to petition for exemption from disqualification.

7. Your Own Best Advocate

You are your best safety advocate. You know the old adage that says, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed”? Well, let that serve you in taking care of your health as a professional truck driver. Be proactive, be informed, be prepared and you will have an intelligent conversation with your doctor where you will receive the best course of treatment possible.

8. Disclosure

Always discuss all medical plans with a qualified health practitioner.

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