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Spring allergy season may create unforeseen safety risks

How will allergy medications affect your driver’s ability to safely operate your CMV?

Posted May 2, 2018

To gain relief from seasonal allergies, your employees may be taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. But allergy sufferers need to be aware of potential side effects, especially if operating heavy machinery, commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), or even simple tools.

Depending on the specific medication, a person may experience drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, blurred vision, headache, nervousness, fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, loss of appetite, and sleep problems. And, of course, allergy sufferers should always check for interactions with any other medications they are using.

Commercial drivers and medications

There is no “official” list of prohibited drugs in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). The regulations reference Schedules of Controlled Substances appearing in the Drug Enforcement Administration regulations, 21 CFR 1308. Schedule I is the only list with no exceptions in the FMCSRs. This includes a prohibition on medical and recreational marijuana, which appears on the Schedule I, even if legal under state law.

Use of all other schedules of controlled substances is based on what the prescribing medical practitioner told the driver. In other words, the driver is explicitly told it will not interfere with his or her ability to safely operate a CMV. This stipulation is repeated in Sections 391.41 and 392.4 for all regulated drivers, and Section 382.213 for safety-sensitive positions (i.e., CDL drivers).

Over-the-counter medications are also included if they affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a CMV. Section 392.4(a)(4), which applies to all drivers, addresses these side effects.

Alcohol & Drugs DOT Compliance ManualJ. J. Keller's Alcohol & Drugs DOT Compliance Manual can help you understand and comply with DOT's Alcohol & Drug Testing requirements, including 49 CFR Parts 382 and 40.


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