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For older drivers, study finds, 1 drink may be 1 too many
Date:3/7/2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. You may have only had one glass of wine with dinner, but if you're 55 or older, that single serving may hit you hard enough to make you a dangerous driver.

So, baby boomers, what you suspected is true: you can't party like you used to.

Sara Jo Nixon, Ph.D., a professor in the departments of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Florida and doctoral candidate Alfredo Sklar tested how drinking legally non-intoxicating levels of alcohol affect the driving skills of two age groups: 36 people ages 25 to 35 and 36 people ages 55 to 70. They found that although neither age group imbibed enough alcohol to put them over the legal driving limit, a blood alcohol level of 0.08, just one drink can affect the driving abilities of older drivers. Based on the study findings published in the journal Psychopharmacology in February, the researchers say it could be time to reassess legal blood alcohol levels for all drivers.

"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," Sklar said Alfredo Sklar.

The study is the latest in a body of work by Nixon and her team that looks at how even moderate doses of alcohol affect aging adults.

At the beginning of the study, both groups completed a driving task completely sober. The task took the drivers down a simulated winding 3-mile stretch of country road. The drivers stared straight ahead at a large computer monitor. Two computer monitors flanked the first, mimicking the side windows of a car and what the drivers would see in their peripheral vision. A stereo system played driving sounds. A console included a steering wheel and brake and gas pedals. Occasionally, the drivers would encounter an oncoming car, but they did not encounter other distractions.

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Contact: Morgan Sherburne
msherburne@ufl.edu
352-273-6160
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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