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Older Drivers More Susceptible to the Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol's effects seen on certain measures of driving performance

FRIDAY, March 21, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults' driving performance may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, according to a study published in the February issue of Psychopharmacology.

Alfredo L. Sklar, from University of Florida in Gainesville, and colleagues tested healthy older (55 to 70 years of age) and younger (25 to 35 years of age) adults during a baseline session and again following consumption of one of three beverages (0.0 percent [placebo], 0.04 percent, or 0.065 percent target breath alcohol concentration). Driving precision and average speed were measured.

The researchers found that, at baseline, older adults performed more poorly on precision driving measures and drove more slowly, compared to younger adults. Two measures of driving precision demonstrated the interactions between alcohol and age, with older adults exhibiting greater impairment as a result of alcohol consumption. This interaction persisted after controlling for baseline performance.

"Further evaluation using more complex driving environments is needed to assess the real-world implication of this interaction," the authors write.

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