Just One Drink May Impair Older Drivers

older driver

New Study Sheds Light on Impairment Levels of Drivers 55 and Up

Many seasoned drivers wouldn't blink an eye at the thought of driving after having a glass of wine or one casual beer. However, a new study suggests that drinking just one serving of alcohol may impair the driving ability of people over the age of 55.

The recently released University of Florida study analyzed how one serving of alcohol affects the driving skills of a group of healthy individuals. Half of the participants were ages 25-36, and the other half were between the ages of 55-70.

After undergoing a simulated driving test while sober, the participants were divided into three groups. One group drank a nonalcoholic beverage, the second group drank an alcoholic beverage that produced a breath-test reading of 0.04%, and the third group had an alcoholic beverage with a breath test reading of 0.065%. The participants then took another simulated drive. The researchers tracked the drivers' ability to stay in their lane, maintain a constant speed, and their steering wheel use.

None of the drivers had blood alcohol levels over 0.08, the legal limit for driving, after consuming only one drink. While the single serving of alcohol did not have an impact on the younger groups' skills, the older drivers exhibited poorer precision behind the wheel. According to the scientists, even low doses of alcohol can compromise some basic driving skills among older adults.

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Source: “Older drivers may be impaired after just one drink.” Cbsnews.com. March 21, 2014.