One Drink Might Be Enough to Make People 55 And Older Unsafe Drivers | Smart News | Smithsonian
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One Drink Might Be Enough to Make People 55 And Older Unsafe Drivers

Older adults may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol on driving performance

smithsonian.com

A single glass of wine during dinner isn’t enough to keep you from driving yourself safely home. Unless, that is, you’re over 55 years old. At least that’s what recent research is suggesting—people over 55 may need to be a bit more careful with that one drink before getting behind the wheel. 

Researchers at the University of Florida tested how people drove after drinking “legally non-intoxicating levels of alcohol.” First, they had their subjects drive a car simulator before any alcohol. Then the participants consumed a single drink and drove the car simulator again. 

None of the groups drank enough to register over the legal limit. But for people over 55, that one drink still impaired their driving. “These data provide evidence that older adults may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol on certain measures of driving performance,” the researchers write in their conclusion. 

"These simulations have been used a lot in looking at older adults, and they have been used at looking how alcohol affects the driving of younger adults, but no one's ever looked at the combination of aging drivers and alcohol," said Alfredo Sklar, one of the researchers on the study. 

The University of Florida created this video about the research, in which you can see the awesome, wired caps participants had to wear in the simulator:

So if it feels like you can’t quite party like you used to be able to, it’s probably because you can’t. And if you're over 55, you should probably let your kids drive you home.

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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