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AAA Study: Majority of Senior Drivers Unaware of Medication Risks To Driving Safety

(LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11, 2009) According to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 95 percent of respondents 55 and older have had one or more medical conditions and 78 percent use one or more medications, yet only 28 percent indicated some awareness of the potential impact on driving performance associated with those medications.

Few respondents (18 percent) had received a warning about potentially driver impairing medications (e.g. ACE inhibitors, sedatives, and beta blockers) from a healthcare professional. Further, the study found that such warnings do not increase with increasing numbers of medications or with increasing numbers of medical conditions. Previous research indicates that use of a single potentially driver impairing medication as well as use of multiple medications increases the risk of being in a crash.

The age range was from 56 to 93 and the level of awareness of potentially driver impairing medications decreased with age, while in contract the number of prescription medications people were taking increased. Of those surveyed, 69 percent currently use one or more prescription potentially driver impairing medication and 10 percent currently use five or more prescription potentially driving impairing medications.

“People are unaware of the direct impact on driving that taking over the counter medicines and also prescription medication has on driving,” said Anita Lorz who oversees the Auto Club’s senior safety programs. “Health care professionals, the patient and the pharmacist need to work together so that there’s a better job of educating drivers on known risks, such as the side-effects of medications on older drivers who are trying to stay mobile as long as safely possible.”

With the number of drivers 55 years of age and older expected to increase by more than half, this issue will only continue to grow unless measures are taken to increase awareness about medications that can impact safe driving. High-risk groups include those with multiple medical conditions and those taking multiple medications or potentially driver impairing medications, as well as those with less education.

“Senior drivers and families need to be aware of health and wellness issues which can affect their ability to drive safely,” said Lorz. “Using the tools and resources available at, drivers and families can identify and address these issues to help maintain lifelong safe mobility for themselves and loved ones.”

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.