There are many factors which may affect drivers’ performance on the road in New Jersey. Driving under the influence of alcohol or while distracted by mobile devices has led to many accidents and deaths. However, there is another potential source of impairment for people behind the wheel: sleeping pills. ABC News reported an experiment that was conducted in a driving simulator. The subject took a sleeping pill containing zolpidem, the most common ingredient found in these products.
The effects of the drug 30 and 90 minutes after taking the pill were dramatic, severely altering reaction time and awareness of surrounding vehicles. However, the potential danger persists even after several hours. The medication recommends seven to eight hours of sleep before operating a vehicle. In fact, it may actually take 12 hours for the drug to leave the system completely, but many people do not allow that much time to lapse before getting behind the wheel. As more people seek prescriptions for sleeping medications, more negative effects have been discovered and added to the label as disclaimers. Ultimately, users of sleeping pills should understand the potential side effects and make careful decisions about driving after use.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, an added issue is the use of extended-release pills. Releasing zolpidem into the system over a longer period of time prolongs the effects and may impact drivers more severely the next day. The FDA recommends taking a lower dose in order to minimize these effects. This warning applies especially to women, who tend to retain the drug in their system for a longer period of time, but men are also encouraged to take a lower dosage.