New studies have revealed surprising statistics regarding senior drivers’ use of potentially impairing medications behind the wheel, according to the Bellville Star.
The research, which comes from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, has revealed that almost 50% of older adults reported using seven or more medications while remaining active drivers. What’s more is that many of these medications can potentially increase the risk of an accident, especially considering the fact that an estimated one-third of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition as it is.
“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 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s executive director, Dr. David Yang. “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.”
Despite the fact that one-quarter of U.S. hospitals and health systems say they hope to decrease costs by 1% to 5% over the next five years (says a 2017 Kaufman Hall survey), getting into an accident can still have even more physical risks for senior drivers. In order to minimize the risk of a crash hurting your physical and financial well-being, it’s important to understand the most fundamental driving safety tips for older drivers:
Maintain Vehicle Properly
First, it’s vital for older drivers to stay up to date with basic auto maintenance tasks. It’s a good idea to work closely with an auto repair shop to ensure that you’re reminded when your vehicle needs something like an oil change, a filter change, or any number of basic upkeep tasks. Similarly, depending on your current physical health, don’t hesitate to go to gas stations that have an attendant available to pump gas for you, especially if the weather becomes snowy or otherwise hazardous. The global specialty gases market is forecast to surpass $14 billion by 2026, and you never know if this small step could prevent a potential injury, even if it’s not crash-related. Above all, find the right ways to keep your vehicle maintained while protecting your own physical wellbeing.
Read Labels Thoroughly
Though your doctor will likely discuss the effects that a new medication will have on your cognitive abilities, it’s essential to read the labels thoroughly with each new medicine, whether prescription or over-the-counter. You can also take your concerns up with the pharmacist at your local drug store.
Communicate With Your Doctor
Finally, for the most current and accurate advice regarding your driving safety on certain medications, simply consult your primary care physician. If you’re having trouble staying safe, your doctor can make any number of recommendations. CMS found that in 2015, retail spending for durable medical equipment (which includes contact lenses, eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, mobility aids, and more) reached $48.5 billion, and these devices continue to be readily available to seniors to ensure safety and accessibility through all everyday tasks.
Ultimately, it’s vital for drivers of all ages to be aware of the potentially impairing effects that their medications can have on driving ability.
“Taking multiple medications affects 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.”