While more than 80 percent of drivers over age 65 regularly take medications, only half of them have talked to a doctor about how those drugs could impact their ability to drive safely, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
To address this problem, the AAA launched a free online tool yesterday that aims to educate older drivers about medications that are unsafe to use while driving.
The tool, Roadwise Rx, accessible at AAA.com/RoadwiseRx, presents side effects of individual drugs and how they interact with each other and with certain foods and herbal supplements. The tool allows users to record their prescription and over-the-counter medications on the website and then receive personalized feedback about how the side effects and interactions between those drugs might affect their safety behind the wheel, according to AAA.
Even some commonly used over-the-counter medications might have an effect on driving ability, said Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations at AAA New York. Medications that contain antihistamines like diphenhydramine, for instance, can have the same effects as drinking alcohol, he said.
The new resource is very important today, Sinclair said, because the number of baby boomers becoming senior citizens is substantially increasing. About 10,000 people turn 65 every day, he said. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that more than 70 million Americans will be older than 65 by 2030.
Medications known to impact seniors’ ability to drive include cough medicines, tranquilizers, sleep aids, some antidepressants and narcotic pain pills, according to AAA.