Research by Quattroruote and Humanitas concludes: it is advised not to take medications before driving

All medications should be avoided before operating a vehicle. In collaboration with Humanitas, the Italian magazine “Quattroruote” makes a compelling case by testing the effects of three assortments of medications assumed before getting behind the wheel.

Testing stages – taking medication before driving

To start, Quattroruote conducted a practical demonstration on the Vairano (PV) track in collaboration with Dr. Antonio Voza. Tests were conducted to prove the side effects of three groups of medications taken before getting behind the wheel. These three groups of medications include the following:

  • do not take medications before drivingAntihistamines
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sleeping pills

The first test involved taking antihistamines to prevent allergies, while the second one consisted in taking muscle relaxants to treat muscle aches. Both medications had a great impact on the drivers tested. There was a general delay in movements that was made more evident by their sleepiness. Both tests resulted in loss of steering control of the wheel and the inability to overcome slalom with cones. In both cases, the groups took notes of how the drivers’ conditions were altered considerably. They noticed that the drivers tried to pay more attention to their movements and speed. However, the driver who took the antihistamines had a major reawakening since the drug promoted oxygenation of the blood. Throughout the demonstration, both drivers encountered many obstacles and avoided a particular obstacle to park in reverse. Their reaction times were also registered with a light stimulus.

The risks and danger of taking sleeping pills before driving

The driver who had taken the sleeping medications presented the worst side effects during the test. This medication can be taken up to eight hours before driving; however, the driver had to face the test after only three hours upon administration. The driver was unable to perform the test with success since his reaction time was much delayed and lacked the ability to concentrate.

In general, individuals who are taking sleeping pills may feel fine even after several hours. However, what one fails to notice is that the effect of sleeping pills continues even after five hours. This is the time frame after which difficulties and risks can still be encountered. For this reason, it is important to avoid operating heavy machinery or vehicles while under the influence of these medications.

The tests allowed researchers at Quattroruote and Humanitas to conclude that even certain types of drugs involve considerable risks and hazards for the people who take them before driving. This in turn emphasizes the importance of self-control not only in the presence of alcohol, but also for commonly used drugs. Before getting behind the wheel, it is crucial and strongly advised to avoid any substances that can slow down or alter the state of the human body, particularly the senses and reflexes. Muscle relaxants, sleeping pills and antihistamines are three categories of drugs that should not be taken before driving because they cause a general slowdown to external stimuli.


Humanitas is a highly specialized Hospital, Research and Teaching Center. Built around centers for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, neurological and orthopedic disease – together with an Ophthalmic Center and a Fertility Center – Humanitas also operates a highly specialised Emergency Department.