Are Senior Citizens the New Face of Drugged Driving?

Drugged driving and seniors: What you need to know

With age may come wisdom, but for some, it may also come with medical conditions—and some of them could require prescription medication. Unfortunately for many older, mobile Americans, meds and travel don't mix. But that's just what's happening.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling drugged driving among senior citizens a growing safety concern in the United States. And for good reason.

Consider these statistics from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  • 78 percent of drivers age 55 and older take medications that could potentially impact their ability to drive safely.
  • Yet, only 28 percent of those drivers are aware of that danger.

American Seniors Going Mobile

American seniors are increasingly mobile: One study indicates that as many as one in every six drivers traveling U.S. roadways is older than 65.

How mobile? Consider this:

  • More than 75 percent of male drivers over the age of 85 drove five or more days each week.
  • So did 60 percent of female motorists in that same age range.

Those statistics can be scary if you consider them in context: 90 percent of older drivers say they take at least one medication, and a whopping two-thirds of them take multiple meds. More concerning yet—according to one AAA Traffic Safety Foundation Study, the majority of those older drivers aren't aware of how medications may impact their driving ability.

In fact, 33 percent of older female drivers take sleeping pills, and another two-thirds of them take a pain medication. Both types of drugs may impair driving.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study also revealed a bit of positive news: Older drivers who take medications or who have specific medical conditions are likely to self-regulate their driving behaviors.

In fact:

  • 75 percent of drivers 65 or older who use medication report reduced daily travel.
  • Older drivers who use medication avoid night driving at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

Know a Senior Driver? Here's How to Help Them Be Safe

If a friend or family member is a senior driver, please know there are steps you can take to help ensure their safety on the road—especially if they take prescription medications:

  • Read Labels. Go over your loved one's medications—and make sure you read the product warning labels. Make sure they know which medications may cause drowsiness, loss of focus, or other side effects that could impair their driving ability.
  • Consider Adjusting Schedules. If your loved one must take a medication at a certain time, consider talking to them about adjusting their driving schedule.
  • Bookmark is a free tool to help people understand the possible driving risks associated with their prescription medications, as well as those available over the counter. All you do is visit the website and enter the name of the medication you'd like to learn more about. The website will tell you about how different medications interact, and which ones you should discuss with your doctor before attempting to drive.

No matter what your age, the car accident injury attorneys here at Edgar Snyder & Associates want to remind you never to drive impaired.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration