Four out of five senior citizens in Iowa are taking medications, but a study finds many of them don’t understand how the drugs may affect their abilities, especially to drive. Rose White, at Triple-A-Iowa, says the motor club is launching a website that allows you to input whatever meds you’re taking to learn about their impact.
“RoadwiseRX provides details on the common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications,” White says. “The free online tool generates personalized feedback on how medications or herbal supplements and foods, and their interactions with each other, can impact safety behind the wheel.”
Even if you’ve taken a drug for some time, White says you may not be aware of how it may affect your senses, particularly if multiple meds are involved. “Our research shows that more than 80% of drivers age 65 and older regularly take medications, yet only half have talked to a medical professional about the possible safety issues and side effects related to driving,” White says.
“With this tool, we hope they’ll use it, input the information, print the results and share it with their doctor.” Certain antidepressants have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41%.
Ingredients like diphenhydramine, found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, can have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood-alcohol levels. “In most states, including Nebraska and Iowa, a motorist can be charged for driving under the influence of drugs, which includes prescription and over-the-counter medications,” White says.
“For that reason, it’s important to know and understand the side effects of any medications being consumed before you operate a motor vehicle.” It’s estimated that by 2020, just eight years from now, nearly one in six people will be 65 or older — and most of them will still be licensed to drive.