Researchers from the University of Florida conducted a small study that dove into how alcohol affects drivers from two age groups. According to the report, drivers who are 55 and older in Missouri and across the country could be at risk for causing an auto accident after having just one drink.
The study compared people ages 25 to 35 with people ages 55 to 70. Both groups completed a controlled driving test while sober. Participants then consumed either a non-alcoholic beverage or one that would cause an alcohol level that, while legal, would still register on a breath test. They then redid the driving test, and researchers evaluated the results.
While younger drivers did not show any signs of impairment after consuming alcohol, the elderly participants did. The older drivers showed poorer precision as well as impairment, even after just one alcoholic beverage.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, older Americans will feel the effects of alcohol and risk becoming a drunk driver much faster than younger people due to the following reasons:
- As humans age, there is less water in the body, causing a higher blood alcohol concentration.
- Older bodies are unable to absorb and metabolize alcohol as quickly as younger bodies.
- Many older people take medications that do not mix well with alcohol.
Further, there are many prevalent health conditions among the elderly that alcohol can exacerbate. For example, memory issues and liver problems can quickly become worse among people who are consuming.
The study from the University of Florida is an important reminder that impairment can start at the very first drink. Alcohol and driving do not mix well. Drivers should always be aware of the factors that put them at risk of feeling the effects of alcohol quickly, including their age.