Taking Multiple Medications Can Increase Crash Risk for Older Drivers
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Nov. 28, 2018 – Nearly 50 percent of older adults report using seven or more medications while remaining active drivers, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. An evaluation of the medications people are taking found that nearly 20 percent of older drivers are using medications that the American Geriatrics Society says should be avoided because they have very limited therapeutic benefit, pose excess harm, or both. Drugs like these are called potentially inappropriate medications, or PIMs. Most of these potentially inappropriate medications, such as benzodiazepines and first-generation antihistamines, are known to cause impairing effects such as blurred vision, confusion, fatigue or incoordination, and can increase a driver’s risk for a crash by up to an estimated 300 percent.
Currently, a record 42 million adults ages 65 and older are driving on America’s roads and this number is expected to increase substantially over the next decade, which would make them the largest driving population.
“There is a growing population of older drivers who use multiple medications and likely do not realize the impact these prescriptions may have on their driving,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “This new research shows that the more medications an older driver takes, the more likely they are to use an inappropriate medication that can potentially cause driving impairment.”
The AAA Foundation along with researchers from Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego evaluated medication reports from nearly 3,000 older drivers participating in the AAA LongROAD study. Researchers found that the most commonly reported medications used by older drivers affect driving ability and increase crash risk. These medications include:
“Taking multiple medications affect all of us, but older drivers can be particularly vulnerable. Ask your doctor and pharmacist as many questions as necessary to ensure you understand why you need the medications prescribed to you, and how they can affect your driving,” said Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “Don’t be afraid to question healthcare providers. It’s their job to help you. And the answers may just save your life.”
AAA urges older adults and their families to be vigilant in understanding the types of medications prescribed to them and to have a strong grasp on any potential impairing side effects before getting behind the wheel. Drivers should:
About LongROAD: Recognizing that lifestyle changes, along with innovative technologies and medical advancements will have a significant impact on the driving experiences of the baby boomer generation, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has launched a ground-breaking, multi-year research program to more fully understand the driving patterns and trends of older drivers in the United States. The AAA LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers) study is one of the largest and most comprehensive senior driver databases available on senior drivers incorporating 2,990 participants being followed for five years. It will support in-depth studies of senior driving and mobility to better understand risks and develop effective countermeasures.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.