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Nov/Dec 2012 Issue

AAA has the prescription for safety for senior drivers who take medications

Medications that help seniors stay healthy can have the opposite effect when they are behind the wheel, increasing their crash risk, so AAA has introduced a new tool, Roadwise Rx, to help them understand how their prescriptions can affect their ability to drive safely.

More than 80 percent of drivers age 65 and older regularly take medications, yet only half have talked to a medical professional about possible safety issues related to driving. With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, this “silver tsunami” is at risk when they slide into the driver’s seat after taking medications unaware of how the drugs influence their alertness, concentration, and more.

Developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Roadwise Rx is an online tool that details common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The tool generates personalized feedback on how medications, herbal supplements, and foods–and their interactions with each other–can impact safety behind the wheel. Drivers are encouraged to discuss the confidential results with their doctor or pharmacist to learn how to mitigate possible crash risks. 

Due to chronic medical conditions, older adults often must take multiple medications. Certain types of medications, like antidepressants, have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent. Ingredients like Diphenhydramine, typically 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 concentration.   

“Earlier research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that nearly one out of five older drivers use five or more prescription medications. With medical conditions typically on the rise as people age, and treatment often dependent on medicinal interventions, there was a critical need to develop a tool to help older drivers understand the safety risk,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.

Roadwise Rx is available free to all seniors and their families at SeniorDriving.AAA.com, which offers a variety of valuable tools and interactive resources to keep seniors safe behind the wheel and driving for as long as possible.

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By 2020, it is estimated that nearly one in six people will be 65 or older, and the majority of them will still be licensed to drive.

 

One decade after car seat mandate, AAA finds risky misuse

Despite advances to make child seats easier to install, including the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) restraint system, it is estimated that nearly three out of four car seats are not properly installed.

Child car seats are increasingly designed to simplify the installation process, but AAA has found that many parents are still missing the mark. AAA’s recent survey of Child Passenger Safety Technicians (CPSTs), those certified to inspect and properly install car seats, reveals that LATCH misuse is cause for concern. Nearly three-quarters of CPSTs surveyed observed parents misusing the LATCH system more than half of the time.

LATCH has been required in nearly all vehicles and car seats since September 2002 and is touted as user-friendly. Yet misuses reported by CPSTs in the AAA survey included:

  • Using LATCH in the rear-center seating position when not permitted by the vehicle manufacturer
  • Using both the seatbelt and the LATCH system to install the car seat, which could result in injury because the crash forces may be distributed improperly in a wreck
  • Using the wrong belt path with the LATCH attachments to install the car seat

Experts are available to help parents with proper installation of car seats, which is vital to protect children in a crash. Simply visit www.seatcheck.org or call (866) SEATCHECK (866-732-8243). For additional information on AAA’s child passenger safety resources, visit SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com.

 

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