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Check RX Label to Prevent Drowsy Driving

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RALEIGH — If you've ever taken a prescription or over-the-counter medication before, chances are you've seen the label, "warning, may cause drowsiness." Unfortunately, many of us often don't heed that warning. A new poll shows we should.

We're all aware of the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol. But what about driving under the influence of some drugs?

"It isn't just drunk drivers that are on the roads," explains Karyn Brown of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "We're also looking at impaired drivers. Impaired drivers cause as much of a danger as a drunk driver."

Every year, drowsy drivers cause 100,000 traffic accidents and 1,500 deaths-- like that of a Texas boy who was killed by a driver who had taken valium and codine.

"This has been almost 5 years ago," says the accident victim's mother, Susan McCurdy. "But there are days when I don't think I can get through the day. Losing a child, there is nothing harder than that."

A new poll by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety shows 85% of Americans feel they need better notification from doctors and pharmacists on the impact of some medications on driving.

"Legally, anytime a doctor writes you a prescription and you have it filled at a pharmacy, it's required by federal law that we tell you the most common side effects," explains Dr. Alicia Underwood, WRAL Health Team Pharmacist.

Dr. Underwood says we should read all warning labels for prescription drugs as well as over-the-counter medications. She says even if you don't feel drowsy, your reaction time could be slower than usual. When in doubt, don't drive.

According to the poll, 8 out of 10 Americans know that taking medications can make them drowsy while driving. The goal is to stop those who choose to drive anyway.

North Carolina is one of 32 states that have laws against driving while impaired by any substance that affects driving ability.