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Br Med J. 1979 April 7; 1(6168): 917–919.
PMCID: PMC1598593

Minor tranquillisers and road accidents.


In a prospective study of 43,117 people, prescriptions issued by general practitioners over two years were linked with records of hospital admissions and deaths. For 57 people injured or killed while driving cars, motorcycles, or bicycles the medicines that had been dispensed in the three months before were compared with those dispensed for 1,425 matched controls. There was a highly significant association between use of minor tranquillisers and the risk of a serious road accident (relative risk estimate 4.9). the increased risk of accidents to drivers given tranquillisers could be due to the known psychomotor effects of these drugs or to effects of the conditions being treated. Whatever the reason, patients taking drugs such as diazepam should be warned that they are at special risk.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Clayton AB. The effects of psychotropic drugs upon driving-related skills. Hum Factors. 1976 Jun;18(3):241–252. [PubMed]
  • Betts TA, Clayton AB, Mackay GM. Effects of four commonly-used tranquillizers on low-speed driving performance tests. Br Med J. 1972 Dec 9;4(5840):580–584. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Skegg DC, Doll R, Perry J. Use of medicines in general practice. Br Med J. 1977 Jun 18;1(6076):1561–1563. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • MANTEL N, HAENSZEL W. Statistical aspects of the analysis of data from retrospective studies of disease. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1959 Apr;22(4):719–748. [PubMed]
  • Linnoila M, Häkkinen S. Effects of diazepam and codeine, alone and in combination with alcohol, on simulated driving. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1974 Apr;15(4):368–373. [PubMed]
  • Finkle BS, Biasotti A, Bradford LW. The occurrence of some drugs and toxic agents encountered in drinking driver investigations. J Forensic Sci. 1968 Apr;13(2):236–245. [PubMed]

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