Older drivers: Be careful even if you have had only one drink

Many adults who seldom drink do choose to drink a bit during the holiday season. Alcohol is often served at holiday parties and New Year’s champagne toasts are common. There is certainly nothing wrong with drinking during the holidays. However, it is important for older Americans to be particularly careful about when and what they choose to drink if they plan to drive after the celebration has concluded.

A study published earlier this year suggests that even a single drink may affect the driving ability of motorists older than 55. Even if a single drink does not raise an older motorist’s blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of 0.08, it may cause impairment and make older motorists more likely to cause motor vehicle accidents.

One of the study’s co-authors has emphasized that, “This study suggests that even low alcohol doses, producing alcohol levels below the current legal limit, can compromise some basic driving skills among older adults." Practically, this means that older adults should strongly consider refraining from driving for a significant length of time after imbibing even a single drink.

This holiday season, be smart instead of sorry. Either secure a designated driver, opt to take public transportation or a taxi, refrain from drinking or take much longer than usual to sober up before getting behind the wheel. The possibility of impairment is very simply not a risk worth embracing. Not only can an accident caused by impairment cause others harm, it can cause you significant harm as well.

Source: HealthDay, "Older Drivers May Be Vulnerable to Just One Drink," Mary Brophy Marcus, March 20, 2014

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