The Road Ahead : February 2013
QUEENSLAND'S LARGEST CLUB FEB/MAR 2013 THE ROAD AHEAD 51 FOUR IN 10 Queensland drivers admit to ignoring medical and pharmaceutical warnings and driving after taking prescription drugs, according to research* from RACQ Insurance. RACQ Executive Manager Insurance Communications Mike Sopinski (pictured facing page, bottom left), said the research showed that, despite warning labels advising them of the dangers, many Queenslanders had driven while under the influence of prescription drugs. "Eight percent of motorists admitted they sometimes drive under the influence of prescription drugs, while an alarming three percent admitted they either often or always drive under the influence of prescription drugs," Mr Sopinski said. "They are risking their lives, and the lives of other road users. "Before they even think about using their cars, motorists should check with their GP about whether any medication, or combination of medications, could affect their ability to drive." Chief Executive Officer of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Liesel Wett, (pictured facing page, bottom right), said the research showed the importance of people talking to their pharmacist about the medicines they were taking. "Pharmacists are the medicines experts and can explain the labels as well as what interactions particular medicines may have with other medicines or products, including food and alcohol," Ms Wett said. "Ignoring warnings and driving against the label recommendations or the advice of a health professional is dangerous, not only for that person, but also for other members of the public. "The warning labels are used for a reason. If a person has any doubts they should talk to their pharmacist. They don't need an appointment. They can go to any pharmacy and receive advice to ensure their safety and the safety of others." The RACQ Insurance study comes after research from a major health insurer** in 2012 found nearly two in three Australians were incapable of understanding their doctor's instructions and their medication regimen. Research conducted by the National Prescribing Service found 57 percent of Australians had made a mistake with their medicines in the previous year, and a quarter had taken medicine without following the correct instructions. Other highlights of the RACQ Insurance research included: PRESCRIPTION DRUGS V ILLICIT DRUGS According to RACQ Insurance, the number of people who admitted to driving while under the influence of prescription drugs was greater than the number of drivers who got behind the wheel after taking illicit drugs (40 percent versus eight percent). The research found males and females were equally as likely to have driven after taking prescription drugs, with 32 percent admitting to the practice. "The majority of Queensland drivers (98 percent) believe illicit drugs pose a significant danger on our roads, while only 70 percent believe prescription drugs are a danger," Mr Sopinski said. "More drivers are likely to get behind the wheel after using prescription drugs that carry a warning not to drive, than they are after taking illicit drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, speed or ecstasy." More than half (53 percent) of the state's motorists believed that drivers using over-the-counter medications (e.g. cough and flu medicines) presented a significant threat to road users. "These results show many drivers are ignoring pharmaceutical warnings about the dangers of driving while under the influence of prescription medications," Mr Sopinski said. "People need to know that any drug they take, whether it is prescribed or illicit, has the potential to impair their driving ability." ROADSIDE DRUG TEST ACCURACY CHALLENGED The RACQ Insurance research found the majority of Queensland motorists believed that random roadside drug testing of drivers was a good idea (95 percent). However, the research also found that only 14 percent of Queensland motorists thought random roadside drug tests were totally accurate, while almost four percent believed such tests were not accurate whatsoever. CRASH EXPERIENCES -- ALCOHOL THE BIGGEST CAUSE While the use of prescription and illicit drugs was of major concern, the research showed alcohol was the most prolific substance that caused the most number of crashes across Queensland. The RACQ Insurance study revealed that alcohol was a factor in nine percent of Queensland road crashes, while illicit drugs accounted for two percent and prescription drugs one percent. *The RACQ Insurance Research is a representative sample based on an online survey of 1000 Queensland motorists, conducted in November/December 2012. **Medibank Private: National research (September 2012). More drivers are likely to get behind the wheel after using prescription drugs that carry a warning not to drive, than they are after taking illicit drugs. DISCLAIMER: INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE ISSUED BY RACQ INSURANCE LIMITED. CONTACT OUR BRANCHES, AGENCIES OR PHONE 13 1905 FOR A PRODUCT DISCLOSURE STATEMENT. PLEASE READ THE PDS BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY DECISION REGARDING THIS PRODUCT.