PD and driving

I have been diagnosed just over a week now but think I have had PD for a lot longer. One thing I have found strange over the last 6 months is i can feel fine but when i get behind the wheel after a few minutes I get blurred vision and extremely tired where I cant stop yawning. It has got worse since being on meds but does anyone have a thought if PD is causing this. if so it will be a concern as I drive for my job.

16 Replies

  • Some drugs, dopamine agonists in particular, can cause problems by making you more fatigued. They could also cause you to drop off to sleep with little or no notice. In most people, this side effect of extreme fatigue is not so dangerous as in your case as you drive every day.

    It is worth going back to the prescriber to discuss this problem. There are many different drugs and you will find one to help I am sure.

    Which country are you in?

  • Thanks, i am in NZ

  • Him I'm 55 and have had PD for about 15 years,I drive heavy trucks for a living still, but I had the same problem and fell to sleep behind the wheel ,hit a stone wall at 70 KM per hour, the cause was that some of my meds interacted with each other and this caused a instant sleep disorder , I would fall to sleep half way through a sentence some times, so I went to my GP and we figured out which meds were doing what and changed them around and touch wood it has been good for about four years now, so as my PD worsens and my meds change we just make sure that there are no hidden side effects,

    Thanks Shakey

  • PS I'm also in NZ ,ChristChurch,

  • good to here this, might catch up one day at maybe a support group. I live in Oxford.

  • Hi Shakey here , just talking to my wife and she was saying that the Ropinerole, hope this helps,


  • Extreme tiredness can be an early symptom before diagnosis (ie not med related), also shock of diagnosis can cause it. It is not necessarily permanent.

    In UK it is legal requirement to inform GVLA about diagnosis of PD.

    You must consider safety of other road users if you're not A1 to drive.

  • how many hours sleep do you get each night

  • About 6 hours at night, although I wake each time I need to turn over. In the daytime I keep 'pottering about' to resist the urge to nap. (I'm retired from paid work, just doing voluntary stuff now).

  • My husband has PD and dozed off in the car while stuck in traffic and didn't have the handbrake on resulting in damaging the car in front, thankfully he was alright. He spoke to his PD Nurse and they altered the times of the tablets and this has helped him to stay away during the day.

  • Much as I like to drive, need to drive, independence and all that.... it escapes me how it is that people movement impaired or taking sleep inducing drugs with PD are allowed to drive. This falling asleep and running into something at 70 KM is appalling. If there is ANY chance that you could fall asleep taking a particular drug, how is it that people can expose others (as well as themselves) to such a risk? Driving is a privilege, not a right. If you cannot make your feet move reliably or you cannot be certain that you'll be awake and alert at all times while driving, then getting behind the wheel is the same as if you were drunk and just decided to drive anyway.

  • Exactly.

    Driving while unfit = killer at the wheel.

  • even though driving seems easy for those who know how to drive, it actually requires a huge amount of integration of various cues....how fast should i go? should i speed up or slow down and when? should i put on the brake? should i change lanes? is someone too close to my rear? am i too close to the car in front of me? should i using the turn signal? am i paying attention to my rear view/side view mirrors? is that car changing lanes in front of me? All this requires constant adjustment of vision...near, far, left, right, etc. it also requires integration of feet, arms, hands, neck movement along with the eyes.

    all these cues have to be integrated and integration of cues is very hard in PD....that's why the First Rule of PD is 'one thing at a time'.

    my husband had the same issue of fatigue and justifiably....integrating all those cues IS tiring. yawning probably is due to fatigue or the need for oxygen to cover all the effort you are putting into driving. he has not been able to drive for five years....not that he can't drive, but that the cost is too dear.

    with regard to the vision, i see that sometimes he gets nauseated from reading....usually when his dopa med is at its lowest. i believe that is because in PD tremor is everywhere, not just in the hands and that means the eyes also. adjusting one's focus at the same time one has a tremor in them has to be exhausting and sort of like what makes one carsick....carsickness due to the inability of the eyes to adjust focus to movement.

    hope this helps.

    my husband has no trouble with fatigue during the day. he occasionally takes a nap but more often he just takes a lie-down for half an hour and is then up and about. i don't think it has anything to do with the medicine other than that the closer he gets to med time, the harder it is for him to integrate cues.

  • thanks everyone for the opinions. Looks like I am going to have to think serious about driving. at least while my meds are kicking in.

  • DeanOct1st

    I experienced an irrestible urge to sleep in the early stages of PD before I went on medication. The meds I eventually went on were Stalevo and Azilect. The urge to sleep disappeared and the symptom I now experience is rigidity in my left arm which

    I tend to leave resting on the gear shift. ( British, manual) When the drugs are wearing off its uncomfortable but I nonetheless drive quite well. if not, I'd give up.

    Maybe a change of meds is what you need.

  • I can't answer your question directly but will tell you some things that have helped me with driving. I was diagnosed 4 years ago and levo/carbo is the only med I take. I'm also retired so I don't have the pressure on me to drive every day like you do. I do live by myself and don't have any family, so I have to get out some. The things that have helped me with driving:

    1) I no longer drive on the highway. The last time I tried, I had to almost pry my hands off the steering wheel after I arrived at my destination. It occurred to me that driving around on the city streets is easier because when I stop at stop signs and traffic lights, I get to relax my nerves, arms, hands, feet, legs, and back at least momentarily. Whereas, when driving on the highway, there is never a time to relax - I have to be on constant vigilance, and that exhausts me. Taking the side streets takes longer, but my life and the lives of those around me are more important than time.

    2) When I'm out driving, I take my medicine doses a little closer together than when I'm at home.

    3) A couple of times I've turned around and come back home because I could feel the medication wasn't working properly. I have to be willing to do that to stay safe. (I've found that what I eat, when I eat, how well I chew my food, very humid days in the summer, high mold and pollen levels, and negative thoughts swirling around in my head all keep my medication from from working optimally. Whew! We really have to become jugglers to manage this thing!)

    4) I retired around the same time I was diagnosed. I was soon having trouble with what felt like my eyes jumping around when I drove. It wasn't that things looked blurry, it was just that my eyes felt like they were darting around and wouldn't stay in one place very long. But, hallelujah, I solved that problem. I remembered an old and controversial book about using eye exercises to improve your vision. It's called The Bates Method for Better Eyesight Without Glasses. It's an alternative therapy. Some doctors put it down, but many people say it has worked for them, and one exercise in particular worked for me. Basically, when I'm outside (but not driving), I put my thumb nail about two feet in front of my eyes. Then, I select an object at the farthest distance I can see, and alternately look at that object and then back to my thumb nail. I rest my eyes on the first object for a few seconds, then move to the second object for a few seconds. I go back and forth like this for several minutes, and I try to do it most days. This has stopped my eyes from jumping around and has made me much more confident when driving (and probably, a better driver, too). (One thing that Bates advocates is looking directly at the sun. This has been proven unsafe. However, I think there is still some very valuable advice in the book.)

    Here's to our healing and wholeness!

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