With 10,000 Americans turning 65 daily, AAA Southern New England is promoting "Roadwise Rx" to help the "silver tsunami" of seniors understand how medications may affect their ability to drive.

Developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Roadwise Rx is a free online tool that details common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The tool also generates personalized feedback on how medications, herbal supplements and foods could interact with each other and possibly impact a driver's safety behind the wheel.

As they age, many older adults often take multiple medications. Unfortunately, many prescriptions -- including simple over-the-counter cold meds -- have been shown to increase one's crash risk by up to 41 percent, points out AAA Southern New England's Public Affairs Manager Fran Mayko. Many medications can also have the same effect on driving as being above the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration.

Research indicates 80 percent of drivers age 65 and older regularly take medications, but only half have talked to a medical professional about possible safety issues related to driving, said Mayko. In fact, a recent National AAA survey found that women (58 percent) are more likely than men (46perent) to ask medical professionals about the risks of driving while on medication. "This is an issue that all older drivers and their families need to address," said Mayko.

Roadwise Rx may be a helpful tool, but older drivers are still encouraged to discuss the program's results with their doctor or pharmacist to learn how to mitigate possible crash risks, advises AAA.

It's estimated by 2020 -- just eight years from now -- nearly one in six people will be age 65 or older and most of them will still be licensed to drive. As a leading road safety advocate for the last century, AAA continues to provide advice and resources for older adults and their families to help them tackle the challenge of balancing safety and mobility.

Roadwise Rx is available free at www.seniordriving.aaa.com.

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