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Texas A&M seeing more older people drinking and driving with prescription drugs

Dillon and his family.
Posted at 6:28 PM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 19:28:46-05

TEXAS — A big danger we face on the roads everyday is impaired drivers.

Pamela Edward’s 25-year-old son Dillon was drinking and driving and died almost a decade ago. Pamela is sharing his story to help save lives.

"Being told that your child is no longer here is the worst feeling that I’ll ever experience in my life or ever have to go through," Edwards said.

"It changes who you are as a parent, and it never gets any easier.”

Dillon was a husband and father who was about to embark on a family vacation, when his life was cut short after leaving his uncle’s fish fry.

“I share my story because it needs to be told — I know it was Dillon’s choice to choose to drink and drive, I get that, it’s his responsibility but also we have responsibilities as bystanders and being part of that," she said.

"His uncle should have played more of a role and prevented him from getting behind that wheel.”

Pamela wants everyone to be safe when getting behind the wheel including our aging population.

Texas A&M is looking into this.

“This is the first time in history that seniors are out living their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to ten years, and the first time in history they must plan for not only retiring but retiring from driving," said Program Manager of Silver Drivers Safe Texas with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Cindy Kovar.

Cindy says drinking and driving killed 229 Texans 55 and older in 2022.

She says that age group is enjoying alcohol while being more social especially as they become empty-nesters.

"When you’re 55+, most people 55+ are on four or more medications and so we don’t know how those medications are going to affect their driving by themselves, but also how are those medications, the side effects may be even increased because of a little bit of alcohol in their system," she said.

Pamela says to remember the people that you love and that love you before driving impaired.

“I always encourage people to put a photo up in their car — each and every time they get in that car, they see that photo of someone they love so dearly that maybe when they get in that car, that it’s a reminder for them to buckle up, it’s a reminder for them not to speed, it’s a reminder to them to never want to choose to drink and drive," she said.

Cindy encourages people to pay attention to how a new medication impacts their body and mind the first few weeks of starting it.

Also check with your doctor about how the prescription drugs you’re taking and alcohol combined can impact your body and side effects.