Nearly half of Americans aged 65 to 79 continue to drive despite seven or more medications, some of which dramatically increase the risk of an accident.
The AAA Road Safety Foundation report, released Wednesday, is the latest in a multi-year study of 2,990 drivers aged 65 to 79 years. Three-quarters of those surveyed as part of the study, which according to the association is the most comprehensive analysis of older drivers and their habits in history, live in cities, many have undertaken campaigns to reduce road accidents. Portland was not one of the included cities.
It has been proven that about 20% of the drugs used by the drivers participating in the study significantly increased the risk of driver crash – in some cases up to 300% – while the American Geriatrics Society believed that "these drugs should be avoided because they have very limited therapeutic effects. excess, or both. Women were nearly twice as likely as men to take one or more medications known to cause dangerous side effects when taken alone or in combination with other medications. Whites, regardless of sex, were more likely than other members of the population to drive while taking such medications.
Drugs cited as problematic include cardiovascular medications used to treat heart and blood vessel conditions, narcotic and non-narcotic analgesics, and anti-anxiety prescriptions. Drivers also use benzodiazepines, addictive anxiolytic tranquillizers, such as Xanax, which can result in blurred vision, dizziness, confusion and fatigue. One of the main drugs used was Benadryl, an antihistamine that causes severe drowsiness.
More than a third of these older drivers are prescribed by several doctors. These doctors may not know or ask how these drugs interact, which the report describes as "worrying".
"There is a growing number of older drivers who use multiple medications and probably do not realize the impact that these prescriptions might have on their driving," said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Road Safety. "This new study shows that the older an elderly driver takes medications, the more likely they are to use an inappropriate medication that can lead to impaired driving."
With longer life and more prescription drugs needed to treat heart disease, blood pressure or chronic pain, these drivers put others at risk by keeping the keys.
The report did not cover drivers aged 80 or older. Approximately 537,890 Oregon aged 65 to 79 had a valid driver's license in 2017, but 127,837 other legitimate drivers in Oregon were 80 years of age or older. The state has more than 3 million legal drivers.
About 42 million Americans aged 65 to 79 still drive in the streets, arteries and vast interstate system of our country, and AAA projects predict that this age group will become the largest country's driver population over the next decade, while the number of older people should "substantially increase."
AAA collaborated with researchers from Columbia University and the University of California at San Diego to analyze the drug therapy history of 2,990 older drivers.
According to this analysis, the most used drugs "affect driving ability and increase the risk of collision".
"Taking multiple medications affects all of us, but older drivers may be particularly vulnerable," said Marie Dodds, director of public relations for AAA Oregon / Idaho. "Do not be afraid to question health care providers. The answers could save your life and that of other road users. "
Drivers can learn more through AAA's free online tool called Roadwise RX, which helps determine if their medications or combinations are problematic.
– Andrew Theen