Driving under the influence of migraine
The NTSB lists Migraine as one of several medical conditions that have the potential to interfere with safe driving. Many states have enacted driving laws that prohibit driving any time you impaired by a substance (even prescription medicines) or medical condition. Physicians are required to report any patient who is unable to drive safely as a result of a medical condition.
Migraine attacks impair our ability to drive safely in many ways:
- Visual aura
- Moderate to severe pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slower reflexes
- Slower reaction times
- Impaired thinking
- Muscle tension
- Blurred vision
- Sleep deprivation
A while back I received a prayer request from a friend. She had just received news that one of her friends passed away, leaving behind a husband and young children. This young mother was a migraineur. She was up in the middle of the night dealing with a migraine attack. Sometime early that morning she decided to take a drive, telling no one of her plans. Her husband woke to a visit from the Highway Patrol. His wife died as a result of a single-car accident. We may never know what caused the accident. However, the fact that she was in the middle of a migraine attack is probably at least a contributing factor.
Like you, I have taken huge risks by driving during a migraine attack, even after taking abortive and rescue medications that were clearly sedating. So far I have been fortunate to defy the odds. That was before I learned that Migraine is a lot more than just a bad headache. I wouldn’t think of driving during an attack now. From the first sign of prodrome until the hangover passes completely, driving is out of the question.
Rarely is anything so urgent that it can’t wait until the attack is over. If absolutely necessary, I ask for a ride. Sure, it can be very inconvenient and downright frustrating. Yet the alternative is untenable. I refuse to put my life and the lives of other drivers at risk.
Please be safe. Don’t migraine and drive.
Have you taken our Migraine In America Survey yet?