On average, senior motorists are driving for between seven and 10 years longer than it’s safe for them to do so, according to the AAA. One reason why they’re not considered safe is the number of medications that they may be taking. A staggering 50% of senior drivers regularly take at least seven different types of medications, while 25% take 11 or more. And it’s the type of drugs, as well as their side effects, which could be leaving seniors vulnerable on the roads.
Senior medication use
Medications, including allergy drugs, anti-depressants, pain relief (including opioids), sleeping pills, and decongestants are recognized as potentially being dangerous to take when driving. This is because they can commonly cause side effects such as blurred vision, drowsiness, and poor concentration. These types of medications are frequently taken by older members of society, though. UPI reports that 10 million seniors fill at least one opioid prescription every year, while the APA states that almost 20% of over 60s take anti-depressants.
Uneducated about the risks
The AAA reports that 69% of seniors are taking at least one medication which could hinder their driving performance. More worryingly, 10% are taking five or more. And the more medications a senior takes, the more likely it is that they are taking something which shouldn’t be consumed alongside another drug. However, just 22% of these individuals are aware that the drugs they take could affect their driving. As such, it’s crucial that seniors are better educated on the risks that the medications they’re prescribed could have each and every time they get behind the wheel.
Keeping seniors road-safe
Any health problem that a senior has, including ones that they take medication for, should be disclosed to their car insurer. By doing this, they can ensure that they’re safeguarded on the road no matter what. In addition to taking out a suitable insurance policy, seniors need to regularly review the medications that they are taking. The AAFP highlights that one in every five prescriptions given to seniors is inappropriate. So, seniors, their loved ones, and healthcare providers have an important role to play in improving senior road safety.
Better road safety
America’s seniors much prefer to drive themselves to where they need to be rather than taking public transport. According to iii.org, just 2% of trips made by seniors are done via public transport. With the nation’s aging population now keeping hold of their driving licenses for longer than ever before, Dr. Zaldy Tan suggests that seniors who do take a large number of medications, write a list of all the prescription and over-the-counter drugs that they take before visiting their physician so that they can determine whether any can be stopped.
Seniors are fiercely independent and are driving for as long as they possibly can. However, with many aging individuals taking a considerably high number of medications, they’re putting themselves and others at risk when they’re on the road. It’s therefore essential that they carefully consider the medications that they take, seek expert advice on the safety of the drugs they’re taking, and inform their insurer of their medical conditions.