One glass of wine, or a similar amount of alcohol, may be one drink too many for adults over the age of 55, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida. The study found that despite drinking legally non-intoxicating levels of alcohol, the driving ability of older adults was still affected.
Professor of psychiatry and psychology Sara Jo Nixon and doctoral candidate Alfredo Sklar asked 36 people between the ages of 25 to 35 and 36 people between the ages of 55 to 70 to complete a driving task in a driving simulator while sober.The researchers observed how well drivers stayed in the middle of the lane and maintained a constant speed while also looking at how quickly they adjusted the steering wheel.
The researchers later had each group drink legally non-intoxicating levels of alcohol, or about one glass of wine. Each group was then asked to complete the same driving task. Neither group had enough alcohol to reach the legal limit of 0.08, but only the driving abilities of the older group were affected.
To Nixon’s surprise, the alcohol did not affect the younger adults’ driving abilities. However, she noted that it doesn’t mean that alcohol wouldn’t affect young drivers in the real world. After finding out that buzzed driving really is drunk driving, we have to agree and encourage all drivers to avoid driving after drinking.
According to the researchers, driving simulators have been used to look at how aging affects older drivers and how alcohol affects younger drivers but not to look at how the combination of aging and alcohol affects older drivers. Based on the study results, the researchers believe it might be time to reassess the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit.
Whether or not the findings of this study lead to a lower legal BAC limit, we hope all drivers think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.