Antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and so-called “Z-drugs” such as zolpidem (Ambien) and zaleplon (Sonata) are associated with increased risk for motor vehicle accidents, according to a case-control study in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
Using registry and claims data from Taiwan, researchers assessed use of psychotropic drugs among 5200 people who were drivers during motor vehicle accidents and 31,000 matched controls who were not in accidents.
Relative to nonusers, the risk for motor vehicle accidents was higher among patients who had taken the following classes of drugs within the previous month: antidepressants (adjusted odds ratio, 1.73), benzodiazepines (1.56), and Z-drugs (1.42), but not antipsychotics. Even relatively low doses of antidepressants and benzodiazepines conferred increased risks.
The authors conclude that clinicians should “choose safer, alternative treatments and advise patients not to drive, especially while taking medications, to minimize the risk of causing [traffic accidents] under the influence of psychotropic medications.”