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More On Drowsy Driving: FDA Changes Ambien Warnings

One of our posts from last week dealt with new data that show the persistent dangers associated with drowsy driving. Fatigue-related crashes killed at least 11,000 Americans in the last decade. As we discussed in that post, a number of obstacles prevent law enforcement authorities from effectively deterring or reducing the numbers of these wrecks.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded to these concerns by taking a step that could help. The agency approved new labels for Ambien and other Zolpidem sleep-aids. Under the new labels, these drugs will have a lower recommended dose. 

According to the FDA, this change reflects the concerning reality that current dosages can have a lingering effect on drivers the next morning. For example, drivers who take Ambien to fall asleep are likely to still feel the drug on their way to work the next morning.

The new recommendation could help avoid some accidents but it not likely to change how car accident lawsuits play out. Drivers always have an obligation to stay focused on the road - no matter how tired they are. The fact that a defendant took Ambien the night before does not absolve him or her of negligence for falling asleep while driving.

Source: WebMD, "FDA: Lower Ambien's Dose to Prevent Drowsy Driving," Amanda Gardner, May 15, 2013

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