Driving Tips for Migraineurs Part 1

In my last post Can I drive with a Migraine? we talked about basic driving facts that Migraineurs need to consider when thinking about whether they should get behind the wheel of their vehicle.

I’ve seen others discuss this topic and communities get very upset at the idea that they shouldn’t be on the road driving with a Migraine at all. The thought of having this aspect of our lives controlled by someone else or, worse yet — taken away from us — angers many people.

Sometimes the best advice I can give to other patients is this: Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Migraineurs will choose themselves whether or not to drive at any point in their disease, and I hope they’ll be smart about it. For this post, I am going to take for granted that they will not choose to drive while Migraining, and focus this on the surprises that can happen as we go about our normal days – those unlucky times when you may be already on the road when an attack hits, or ways to help prevent the surprises in the first place…


    1. Consider driving with a friend. Carpooling to work or the store is always more fun than going it alone anyway, and if you feel like you shouldn’t drive, you have someone else right there to help you.
    2. Carry a cell phone with you at all times. Unless your phone has voice dialing, I don’t recommend smart phones which have no buttons that can aid you in finding the right numbers if you can’t see well. Have emergency numbers pre-programmed into the speed dial feature, so all it takes is finding and hitting 2 buttons to make the call.
    3. Have a pre-arranged plan so the person you’re calling knows what to do if you have an attack and isn’t caught off-guard. Mention when you are leaving and when you expect to return home so there are no surprises on either end.
    4. Carry one or two doses of non-narcotic medicine to abort an attack. Don’t leave it in your car where it can be affected by temperature changes that may damage it, and rotate it occasionally to be sure it is fresh. Color code the bottle or get a colored bottle from your pharmacist so you can find it easily. You can include a folded page of instructions in large lettering to help remind you or a helper how to take it if you can’t see well.
    5. Keep your vehicle stocked well in case you are marooned there for a few hours until help arrives or it becomes safe to drive again. A pillow, blankets, water, a snack, your Migraine bag are the bare necessities.
    6. Basic defensive driving classes will tell you to practice practice practice for an emergency. Practice what you’ll do if hit with an aura on the highway, so if it happens you will be less likely to panic, become afraid or uncertain. Try to get a momentary impression of the direction of the road and keep both hands on the wheel as you look ahead and brake with intention. You don’t want to lock your brakes, lose control of your vehicle or cause an accident. You want to slow down and get to the shoulder or a parking lot where you can stop and put your flashers on, lock your doors and treat your attack or wait for the aura to pass. Some states require that you remove your keys and sit in a passenger seat if you take medicine, or you could be prosecuted for driving with it in your system, even if you didn’t budge an inch. If there is a question, dial *55 to talk to your local state patrol office who will direct you what to do, or seek the help of a competent attorney for advice.

    Read more in Part 2 including my story of being marooned alone with my young daughter…

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (9)