Car accident
IN PHOTO: A police officer inspects a car after an early morning collision, also involving a truck and a passenger bus, near Endingen, northwest of Zurich November 11, 2014. The exact number of casualties was not immediately clear, police spokesman Roland Pfister said, though there was at least one fatality in the crash. Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Sleeping pills increase a person’s risk of getting involved in a car accident even after the effects of the drug have worn off, according to a new study. Furthermore, the new study finds that those who are new to using sleep aids have more risk of being in a car crash compared to non-users, according to CBS News.

Sources report that a study on medical and driving records reveal that people who take popular sleeping pills, such as Ambien and Restoril, had a 25 percent increase of being in a car crash. The study also revealed that there is a continued risk for up to one year for those who use the drug regularly.

According to Michael Grandner, a psychiatry instructor at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in a CBS News report, the risks that come with sleeping pills are not surprising, but the new study provides “compelling real-world consequences”. Researchers have suggested that medical practitioners should discuss with their patients the potential risks when considering taking sleep aids.

For the June 11 published study found in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers, led by Ryan Hansen from the University of Washington in Seattle, assessed prescription records and car accident records of over 400,000 drivers in the Washington state who were enrolled in the Group Health insurance plan. The study followed the participants until their death or after dropping out from the insurance plan.

In the study, researchers found that the most commonly prescribed sleep aids were trazodone, temazepam and zolpidem in that order. Out of the three hypnotic drugs, temazepam was found to be associated with the least risk for car accidents, according to the CBS news report. Furthermore, the researchers said that the overall risk of car accidents due to sleep aids was similar to crash risk associated with alcohol.

"In our study we were just looking at new users of these medications," Hansen said in the NBC News report. Overtime, the researchers found that the risk varies from one medication to another, but cumulative effect of drugs that eventually diminished was also observed.

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