To help raise awareness of the dangers of drowsy driving, the NSF created the Drowsy Driving Prevention campaign, which provides valuable resources for drivers, including a list of risk factors such as sedating cold and allergy medicines. The maker of Claritin helped sponsor this event in order to raise awareness that there are safe non-drowsy allergy treatments available over the counter.
Before taking antihistamines and driving, it's important to know which medicines are safe to take when driving. Claritin is non-sedating, so it relieves indoor and seasonal allergy symptoms without causing drowsiness. Consumers should be aware that drowsiness and fatigue are common side effects of allergy medications such as Zyrtec. In fact, Zyrtec prescription labeling carries a caution about the risk of drowsiness and urges consumers to exercise caution when driving a car or operating dangerous machinery.
"Allergies can make people feel foggy, and if they choose an allergy medication that may cause drowsiness, they put themselves at risk for nodding off behind the wheel and harming themselves or others," says Dr. Marjorie Slankard, allergist and clinical professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. "It's important that people with allergies read the label of their medication so they understand the side effects they may experience - and choose a non-sedating medicine whenever they are going to be driving."
As part of the national campaign, the NSF has developed a free drowsy-driving prevention toolkit, downloadable at www.drowsydriving.org. The toolkit includes educational materials, fact sheets, presentations, and a "contract" through which young drivers can pledge to their parents that they will honor safe driving practices. NSF also issued a State of the States report outlining educational, public-awareness, law-enforcement, and legislative activities related to drowsy driving in all 50 states.