Alcohol Hits Older Drivers Harder

Over fifty-five? Do yourself a favour: if you’re driving, skip that glass of wine with dinner, because it might be enough to make you a dangerous driver.

This particular piece of bad news comes courtesy of a study published in Psychopharmacology, which has found that, once you hit fifty-five, you definitely can’t party like you used to. For the study, researchers recruited thirty-six young adults (twenty-five to thirty-five) and thirty-six older adults (fifty-five to seventy). All of them completed a driving simulation to measure their regular driving abilities.

Then, the two groups were further subdivided, each into three additional groups. The first group, the control, drank a lime soda misted with a negligible amount of alcohol to simulate a cocktail. The second had drinks strong enough to produce a .04 on a breathalyser. The final drank enough to produce .065, which, of course, is below the legal limit of .08. Then, everyone did the driving simulation once more.

None of the young adult groups were affected by their drinks (or simulated drinks) in any way. However, the older drivers who had a small but legal level of alcohol in their system were affected: they had worse reaction times, had a harder time staying in the centre of their lane, and struggled more to maintain a constant speed.

So, if you’re hanging out a the pub for the sake of your mental health (hey, it’s a thing) and you’re over fifty-five, call a cab, even if you’ve had just one drink.

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