Zolpidem is among the most frequently prescribed hypnotic drugs for those who suffer from insomnia. Recent media reports drew attention to driving impairment after zolpidem misuse. This review summarizes the available data on the effects of recommended use and misuse of zolpidem on driving ability and traffic safety. Both experimental studies and roadside evidence were taken into account. From these studies it must be concluded that patients should fully comply with the prescription instructions of zolpidem, i.e. to take the medication just prior to a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. If this strategy is adopted, zolpidem is a safe alternative to benzodiazpine hypnotics and zopiclone who do show significant driving impairment the morning following bedtime administration. However, to ensure traffic safety higher dosages than recommended (10 mg) or allowing less than 8 hours between zolpidem intake and actual operation of a motor vehicle should be avoided.