Drowsy Driving: One More Update On Ambien Risks

Drowsy driving has occupied more than a fair share of the national news coverage in the last two weeks. First, last week saw a high-profile report on the high number of fatal accidents that involved drowsiness and driver fatigue between 2000 and 2010. Two of our recent posts explored this story and its implications for Florida drivers.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made its own contribution to the difficult problem of drowsy driving. According to the FDA, Ambien and other zolpidem-based sleep aid drugs are one factor that could be contributing to driver fatigue. The agency is concerned that the recommended dosage that appears on the packaging for these drugs is too high. In other words, drivers who follow this dosage in the evening are likely to still have an Ambien hangover the next morning.

This likely means that many zolpidem patients are somewhat impaired while driving in the morning. To tackle this problem, the FDA approved a new label that would reduce the recommended dose. This is a good development in the discussion of motor vehicle safety – but hopefully the FDA’s actions will prompt other government agencies to look for ways to help prevent drowsy driving auto accidents.

Source: WebMD, “FDA: Lower Ambien’s Dose to Prevent Drowsy Driving,” Amanda Gardner, May 15, 2013