February 1, 2023

This author attended the midyear convention of the Philippine College of Physicians held recently in Subic, Zambales.
The last time I visited the former naval base was in 1996 when I attended a similar event with my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Brigida Alos Claro. That year, we were inducted as diplomates of this medical organization.
The World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims was observed on the third Sunday of November to honor and remember those who were killed or injured on the roads. Dr. Claro or Brigitte as we fondly called her lost her life in a vehicular accident in Tagum, Davao on April 27, 2017.
A kindhearted physician with an expertise in the treatment of poisoning (a toxicologist trained at the Philippine General Hospital) and heart disease (a cardiologist trained at the Philippine Heart Center), she was such a great loss not only to the medical community but also to her patients and loved ones as well.
Road crashes are a common cause of injuries and fatalities. What are precautions that can be observed to avoid traffic-related accidents?
Avoid texting or making calls while dri-ving. Even a split-second of inattention can lead to dire consequences.
Be aware of the effects of medications that you take.
Avoid road rage. While it is easy to be provoked by a driver who insists on overtaking you, do your best to control your reaction. Decide that you yourself should arrive safely.
Do not drive if you missed out on sleep. Lack of sleep can affect your reflexes and the defensive maneuvers when you need them. A vehicle is a machine that requires precision when you operate it.
Mind your speed. Remember that the goal of driving is to arrive at your destination and do your tasks or errands. Do it safely, not injuring a pedestrian or any creature or collide with another vehicle as you travel.
Mind those pedestrian lanes. Slow down before going near a pedestrian lane and always allow people to pass safely. When we alight from our car, we ourselves become pedestrians, and we expect drivers to always consider our safety as we cross a road.
While it does feel good to overtake and increase our speed, let us remember what Mother Teresa said: “Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.”


A medication or drug can affect driving by acting as a depressant or as a stimulant. Below is a short list of medications and drugs that should be used with caution when we operate machines like vehicles:
Tramadol, an oral and injectable drug used to treat moderate to severe pain, can cause drowsiness, headache, and dizziness. It is called an opioid agonist and exerts its effect in the brain for pain control;
Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine, is a common over-the-counter medication used for allergies. It enters the brain circulation and can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision;
Benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat conditions like anxiety, seizures, insomnia, and panic disorder. Alprazolam, diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, flurazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, and temazepam work by enhancing the effect of transmitters in the brain. Side effects include drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, impaired coordination, increased anxiety and tremors;
Stimulant drugs like cocaine and amphe-tamines cause attention difficulties and aggressive behavior that can lead to reckless driving or road rage;
Psychedelic drugs like cannabis (marijuana) and LSD can cause hallucinations, blurred vision, confusion, and problems in coordination; and
Energy drinks loaded with caffeine can lead to palpitations, nervousness, and can contribute to reckless driving.
Ordinary activities that we commonly do while driving can also distract us, so why don’t we do this before starting the engine: Finish off the coffee and the sandwich first, switch off videos, place the phone in silent mode, and ladies to apply their lipstick and make-up already, and set that audio player to the station or music that you like. With these small measures, we can avoid injuring ourselves and others as we drive.


Medical questions and suggestions may be emailed to [email protected] or [email protected]