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Part 2 Driving Tips for Migraineurs

Continued from Part 1

  1. Be prepared to have police and helpful bystanders inquire if you need help. Stay in your car. Unroll the windows only for a police officer. Telling them you aren’t feeling well is usually sufficient, but if you want more help from an officer you may need to explain further. If the attack is severe, dial *55 for police assistance. They are there to help you.
  2. Be ready for an attack so when one hits you are prepared. Don’t let worrying about this kind of attack rule your life however. If someone else can drive you, let them if you’re concerned about driving. Plan each week in advance so trips can be consolidated and 3 or 4 trips can be made in one longer trip. Never, ever drive if you suspect a Migraine attack is imminent. If your medications allow, you might even consider pre-treating before a long or important trip.
  3. Consider getting a letter from your doctor that states you know the signs and symptoms of Migraine and that you have agreed that you will not drive when you are having an attack. Consider consulting with an attorney to make sure that you will be abiding by all the laws of your state, especially if your driving privilege comes under question.
  4. If Migraine with aura hits you more than rarely while you’re driving, you may want to seriously reconsider when and how you get yourself from A to B. We can’t control our Migraine attacks, but we can control how we live our lives with them. It may be necessary to take a voluntary break from driving until you can get your Migraines under better management.
  5. If you want to know how your medications or your aura can affect you, most police stations have a kit that helps illustrate what happens when you are drunk. The kit includes special goggles that cause variations in vision that can be very similar to visual aura as well as the effect these medicines can have on visual perception and how our bodies reactions change. The goggles can also cause mild dizziness that many people feel during Migraine or while taking their medications. When we are in the middle of an attack, we don’t realize how profound these things can be on our system until we have the opportunity to experience them when our senses are working appropriately.
  6. Relax and enjoy driving when you can. We don’t always enjoy driving but we should. It truly is a privilege. When the privilege is no longer there, it’s then that we notice those things we took for granted for so long.

I remember my worst marooning. I was alone with my daughter in Kentucky, miles and miles from my home in Missouri. It was the middle of the night and I knew I probably needed an emergency room visit, but I had no way to get there safely, save an ambulance ride. I was horribly afraid of an ER visit while away from home and alone, and afraid what would happen to my daughter who was with me. I called my person — my husband — who immediately set out with my son for an all-night drive to get me. In the end, I got it under enough control in a hotel room that I could send them back home to bed.

I’ve been on the other end too, when my son called in the middle of the night in agony. I drove 6 hours to give him the medication he’d forgotten and stay with him until he recuperated, then followed him back home the following day.

Living well with Migraine Disease is not easy, but with some teamwork, it’s amazing what we can accomplish just the same!

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


  • andreastarigan
    7 years ago

    Excellent article-thank you
    (content edited for spam)

  • Abigail Bristow
    8 years ago

    I do alot of the same things andy does! and I always always have sunglasses with me and I even wear them at night for the headlights I take backroads that are usually untravelled even though takes longer to get where I may absolutely have to go I am hypervigelent when driving I go slow I check my blind spots like its religion I don’t just check mirrors I literally turn to look because that’s where I have the problems in the outer corners of my eyes and there have been many times that I have left my car at the store if a migraine hits while I am shopping and I callmy hubby or mother in law to come and get me because driving even the two or so miles isn’t worth taking myself away from my son or taking someone elses parent or loved one away from theirs but there are times when it’s more of an auditory issus and my vision isn’t a problem and then I don’tworry because there are migraines where I can see but noise oh good gracious those are bad and I just put in my ear plugs and drive. again I am very very careful and only go if it’s absolutely unavoidable IE when my son was having a temp of 104 and he had to go to urgent care asap. for treatment of double inner ear infection. I have lost loved ones in accidents and by the grace of god have never ever had a ticket or accident in my life. but at the same time there was an entire year that I didn’t drive at all because I couldn’t afford to go to the dr to get treatment and I knew that it was unsafe. currently I am able to drive when I am not as bad it’s always there but not always so bad that I have to take meds. and on those days are when I drive to the store litterally three blocks away ( it’s a bit more expensive but worth it) and I get whatI need and get out asap. I hope that everyone takes thier driving very seriously because everyone has someone that loves them and would be devistated if they were to pass for something as simple as groceries. and I always if it’s an option have someone drive me. I really liked that you suggested defensive driving as it was mandatory when I was in drivers ed in Iowa h school I think even those with out migfraines should take it it is so worth it <3 abby.

  • Andy Honaker
    9 years ago

    There a few physical things that can be done as well. I have found the following ways to help prevent light from triggering a migraine especially while driving. I try to wear a dark colored hat with a brim when I go outside in the sunlight. The darker the color, the more light is absorbed by the hat before it reaches my eyes. This is the same philosophy as athletes using black under their eyes to help them see.
    I put my sun visor down and adjust the driver side mirror slightly to the left, when driving at night. This allows me to position my eyes to just focus below oncoming headlights. I can keep my eyes on the road without being blinded. Adjusting the driver side mirror allows me to prevent headlights behind me from sneaking up on me, or constantly blinding me (especially when THAT car stays in my so-called blind spot and will not pass me). Adjusting the rear view mirror to the night-time setting (usually there is a lever to flip it up) also helps.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    7 years ago

    Awesome additions @Andy Honaker!

  • Amrita Bhowmick, MPH moderator
    9 years ago

    Hi Dr. Patty, I will send you a personal message to your inbox regarding use of this article. Thank you! (you can also send us an e-mail at

  • Pamela Meeker-Stolz
    9 years ago

    I was afraid to leave my home alone for years for fear of getting a migraine. Now thanks to a whole lot of preventive drugs I am able to live a little better. Thank you for posting what I have lived.

  • Peggy Fearing-Hankin
    9 years ago

    Axert for me. I must have it on hand at all times.

  • Eileen Sexton Rzecinski
    9 years ago

    I have not driven in over a year due to medications I must take and my family’s concern for my safety. Migraines have changed my life forever!

  • drpatty
    9 years ago

    May I please use this Ellen on my website and wall? I will make sure you get the credit as does the original author.

    Can you explain the RSS feed?

    9 years ago

    By popular demand… more driving tips for migraineurs!

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