Help Forum

Help requested posted on 21st February 2017:

Over the counter drugs display

My authority is looking into providing information to the public on the possible effects of over the counter drugs on driving ability. We are looking to borrow (or lease) a suitable display to be used at our County Show. Does anyone know if such a display has already been produced, or anyone who might be able to produce one for us?

Martin Andrew

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Response posted on 21st February 2017 by:
John Billington

T: 01384422578

Over the counter drugs display

Hi Martin

I should imagine there will be someone out there that's done something pretty similar but if not we're ready and waiting!


Response posted on 21st February 2017 by:


Over the counter drugs display

I think you will need a very big display to communicate something that is very complex.

You will need to explain how drugs are tested against how they are used. When they are tested they are often upon 17-25 year olds who are taking one drug, are well hydrated, and being tested for a short amount of time in a driving simulator. How drugs are actually used is by 17-90 year olds who in older generations are taken as part of a treatment regime, who may drive for many hours, and may not have taken a drink of water in a while. Real drivers are not rewarded for completing 15 minutes of driving with £50. People often say – its fine its been tested.

You will need to explain huge individual differences in people, in all trials show a large variation in performance. Some people at just one dosage can’t do a thing – yet others the same medication has little or no effect. I’ve spent a lot of time investigating one drug and the conclusion was – it depends.

You will need to communicate that same people can be affected differently by day, by circumstance and by mood. Arousal level and dopamine (already in the brain chemical) is worthy of a R&D project

You most likely need to communicate that people are weird, that some drugs that we know reduce performance (reaction time etc.) in testing actually improve performance – typically the experimental participant is a bit more relaxed – so performs better. Personally a science type in a white coat testing you is rather relaxing.

That thinking you have consumed a drug – for example alcohol will make you perform as if you have that drug in your system – but don’t actually have it.

Drugs with the same generic label have widely different affects. We have dealt with a lot of ‘water pills’ and ‘anti histamine’ cases where the strength of the tablet and its contents are different. One supermarket own brand hay fever treatment appeared to be very weird.

You need to communicate risk and statistics. Grab any medication information sheet. Yes about 4000 words. Have a look at the section possible side effects. You will see things like ‘may cause’….. and in 1/100 or 1 in 1000, or 1 in 10,000. You need to explain to the person what these mean. Side effects may not affect driving per se, an increase in reaction time – but looking at one case I’ve got to hand the side effects that interested us was “Cardiovascular side effects have included hypotension, tachycardia, and palpitations”. Which you should really explain in ways the driver will understand. This is an over- the -counter medication.

Herbal remedies are sometimes thought of as drugs and are a major issue. We have no idea of what they can do.

We have done some work on communicating risks of driving after a visit to Emergency department (ED) or neurology departments. There is a lot of resistance by drivers to refrain from driving even when you have booked them to see a neurologist. We have dealt with cases where the fact the car is in the hospital car park appears to be the main worry. You might want to contact your local ED and see what they are doing. Royal Colleges are aware of the issue and I think some work is being done. The stuff we have done is on an NHS website – I think it’s called streets ahead.

We have also done work on flu remedies in aviation – typically ground handlers that keep going – just like the advert for the product says – and then fall asleep during aircraft loading…..

There is some nice work done for the US military on over the counter meds and the effects on pilots. Its very old – but it might be found – I think it was called (NADAP)

I would not have a poster but a pharmacist, a neurologist, and someone who knows a bit of neuropharmacology. I lectured in the latter for 4 years – the exam questions all had a model answer – it depends. A human factors person might be useful and as a team they could give some advice. Mainly that advice will end with – well it depends.

Happy to chat.


Response posted on 22nd February 2017 by:
Roy Brocklebank


Over the counter drugs display

I am 90% sure that the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership had a display at our Christmas Fayre in December.

While I accept Martin's detailed response is valid I suspect it is far too complex for a stand at a county show.

At best people will stop and look for a moment, the majority, if they even see your stand, will walk by UNLESS you can grab attention get your message across in 30 seconds to a minute.

Try the LRSP -

Response posted on 11th October 2017 by:
Jack Parnell


Over the counter drugs display

Testing, please delete.

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