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Getting There: AAA offers info about medications and driving

BY SCOTT SHENK

THE FREE LANCE-STAR

WITH AN EYE on the growing number of older drivers on the road—and, it seems, more and more people using medications—AAA has created an important tool.

According to the auto group, 80 percent of drivers 65 and older take prescription medication, but only half of them ask their doctors about side effects that could impact their ability to drive.

It’s pretty clear that driving gets more difficult as we age. Throw medication into the mix and you’ve got problems.

Heck, medications alone can have a serious impact on anyone, let alone older drivers.

And AAA pointed out that fact, saying that some medications, such as antidepressants (used by young and old alike) can increase the risk of

a crash by 41 percent.

To help, AAA created Roadwise Rx, an online tool that gives details on common side effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications. The site also provides information on how herbs and food interact with medications.

Why are over-the-counter medications included?

AAA pointed out that certain over-the-counter meds, say for allergies, can make you the equivalent of a drunken driver.

While the AAA site is geared toward senior drivers, it can be a good resource for anyone using medication.

Here’s the link to the site: seniordriving.aaa.com.

Dear Scott: Gordon Road has been repaved recently. I remember about two to three years ago when the county had a bond issue on the ballot for several projects which included improvements to Gordon Road.

I reviewed the plans, which included turning lanes, right-of-way acquisition to widen the road, curbs, etc., at the county Capital Improvements office.

What has changed? Isn’t the project going to be built as originally planned?

—David Smith, Spotsylvania

That project came about in the mid-2000s. (According to an old Free Lance–Star article, the prospect of widening Gordon Road also was broached in the late 1990s.)

The most-recent plans called for widening Gordon Road to four lanes over a 2.4-mile stretch.

But the estimated $52 million project was shelved by the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors in 2008 because of budget problems.

In an email, county spokeswoman Kathy Smith said “the project cost would have exceeded the County’s debt-to-capacity ratio.”

But the project isn’t dead.

Smith said the project has not been canceled. Instead, it has been “put on hold indefinitely” because there is no funding for it.

That means, don’t hold your breath if you’re looking for Gordon to be widened.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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