All you grown-ups who tsk-tsk heedless teens and others for texting or gabbing on a cellphone while driving should know this:
Even blood pressure meds can impair driving.
A new survey of drivers 55 and older finds that nearly 70 percent are on a prescription drug that can interfere with driving. And ten percent are on five or more such drugs.
The problem meds aren't restricted to sleeping aids and tranquilizers. Common heart and blood pressure meds like beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors can cause drowsiness and dizziness, as can some allergy drugs, some antidepressants, and medicines that treat swollen prostates or restless leg syndrome. That's just a few.
Yet only 18 percent of the older adults surveyed in the AAA/University of Alabama study say they ever got a warning from their doctor or other health care worker that the drugs could worsen their ability behind the wheel.
The older the drivers were, the more drugs they were taking, and the less likely they were to know about these worrisome side effects.
It's not just a problem for casual commuters. The author of FleetOwner, a blog for truckers and trucking fleet managers, notes that truckers tend to be older than much of the American workforce, with a "graying rate that's almost twice as fast as the overall workforce."
The bottom line: If you're on medication, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the drug — or combination of drugs — could interfere with driving. If so, work with them on a plan to minimize the risks.
Everybody else: Stay alert, and don't be smug. Running red lights or stale yellows — and you know you sometimes do — is a huge problem, too. Check out the video from StopOnRedWeek for visceral proof. Yikes!