Navigation Links
Driving Skills Do Ebb With Age: Study

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Even healthy seniors with safe driving records and no history of dementia tend to make more potentially dangerous errors, such as forgetting to check a blind spot, according to a new study.

This suggests that driving performance declines with normal aging and more mistakes crop up, putting the elderly at risk of automobile crashes, said the Australian researchers, who suggested additional training in related cognitive skills for older drivers.

That suggestion, however, will likely be controversial.

"It's really hard to re-train the brain," said Renee Pekmezaris, vice president for community and health services in the Research Department of Population Health at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in New York.

Other studies show that cognitive re-training does not reduce older people's driving crashes, said Pekmezaris. "I'm not as hopeful as the study authors about that," she said. "But there are other things we can do."

The study appeared online May 16 in Neuropsychology, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

In the study, researchers examined the driving habits of 266 healthy drivers ranging in age from 70 to 88 who lived independently and drove at least once a week. Besides completing questionnaires about their health and driving history, the elders took tests on various driving skills such as discrimination, reaction time and the ability to stay focused amid distractions or adapt to changing conditions.

During the 12-mile road test, a professional instructor with access to a brake rode in the car. An occupational therapist sat in the back seat and scored the drivers for skills such as using signals and mirrors, checking the "blind spot" and problems that included veering, tailgating, inappropriate braking and accelerating.

Overall, 17 percent of the drivers made serious mistakes that required the instructor to grab the steering wheel or apply the brake.

The rate of critical mistakes among drivers aged 85 to 89 (who had an average of almost four critical mistakes) was also four times higher than among those 70 to 74 years old (who had an average of less than one).

The most common error was a failure to check the "blind spot" for other vehicles. Drivers reporting a previous crash on the questionnaire made more errors connected to observation, and scored lower on appropriate braking and acceleration, the study found.

Men and women performed equally well on the tests.

"The results fit well with about 30 years of previous research," said Harvey L. Sterns, a research professor of gerontology at Northeastern Ohio Medical University. Driving ability, in general, declines with age, he said.

But Sterns cautioned that many elderly have no problems handling a car. Some drivers in the oldest age group studied made no errors, he said.

"There are greater differences within age groups than between age groups," said Sterns, also a professor of psychology at the University of Akron in Ohio. "It's hard to know whether [the study is] showing dramatic changes relative to an earlier time."

In the United States, 33 million drivers aged 65 and older were on the roads in 2009, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On average, 500 elderly adults are injured every day in car accidents, the agency reported.

As the population ages, the issue will increase in significance, said Sterns. Pinpointing cognitive functions that are linked to driving skills is "an important first step," he said, noting some of these functions could be improved with training.

The authors said their findings are useful for those designing roads and signs, although they acknowledge their study has limitations. One is that drivers' vision wasn't evaluated.

Pekmezaris said aging drivers might do well to modify their driving habits and take advantage of technological advances.

Older drivers may need to restrict their driving to daylight hours, and make use of anti-glare equipment and onboard anti-collision devices, she said.

"What we really need is to get physicians involved in this," said Pekmezaris. Earlier research found that 89 percent of elderly drivers reported they would stop driving if their doctors recommended it, she said.

More information

To learn more about elderly drivers, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

SOURCES: Renee Pekmezaris, Ph.D., vice president, community and health services research, Department of Population Health, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System; Harvey L. Sterns, Ph.D., research professor of gerontology, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Northeastern Ohio Medical University, and professor of psychology, University of Akron, Ohio; May 16, 2011, online, Neuropsychology

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. More Young Women Driving Drunk
2. Federal Government Premium Review Ignores Real Factors Driving Healthcare Costs
3. Toyota Recalls Raise Awareness of Vehicle Safety Issues, Risks of Accidents from Driving Defective Automobiles
4. Beverage Industry Delivers On Commitment to Remove Regular Soft Drinks In Schools, Driving 88% Decline In Calories
5. Thrush Sufferers Seek Out Safe, Natural Remedies for Thrush, Driving a 237% Increase in Sales for "The 3 Day Thrush Cure"
6. Driving With Early Alzheimers May Be Ill-Advised
7. For Vast Majority, Driving and Cell Phones Dont Mix
8. ConnextionsHealth Poised to Help Organizations Leverage Revenue-Driving Opportunities Related to Health Reform
9. Driving ban for epileptics
10. New Partnership Aims to Stop Phone Use While Driving and Save Lives
11. Duty of Care - New Driving Legislation Could Put You in Court! UKContractHireandLeasing spread the word on these new regulations
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Driving Skills Do Ebb With Age: Study
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... “While riding the bus, I ... Bronx, N.Y. “I thought there had to be a convenient and comfortable way to ... The PROTECTOR enables disabled individuals to safely travel during cold or inclement weather. In ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... (PHA) announces the nation’s Periwinkle Pioneers, individuals and groups responsible for advancing care ... disease. The Periwinkle Pioneers, nominated by the public, will receive special recognition throughout ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... philanthropic seniors, is resulting in a way for homeless people to have a ... have launched a new initiative whereby they are repurposing plastic bags into sleeping ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Since its launch in 2012, ... adult stem cell therapies to patients with chronic degenerative medical conditions. Now, the ... Registered Trademark (RTM). , Organizations are required to hold a registered trademark in ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Genesis Chiropractic Software ... software creates an agreement between the practice owner and the patient that automatically ... notification, and projections. Click here to learn more. , ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... FRANCISCO , Nov. 24, 2015  Thanks to ... Dignity Health St. Mary,s Medical Center,s Sister Diane Grassilli ... breast imaging capabilities in San Francisco ... an anonymous friend, stepped forward with a gift of ... for Breast Digital Mammography with Tomosynthesis and Whole Breast ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Colo. , Nov. 24, 2015  Array ... that its Chief Executive Officer, Ron Squarer ... Healthcare Conference in New York.  The public is ... webcast on the Array BioPharma website.Event:Piper Jaffray Annual ... , Wednesday, December 2, 2015Time:1:30 p.m. Eastern Time ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... HOUSTON, TX and VANCOUVER, Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... EPI; NASDAQ: EPIX ) announced today that the ... clinical study of EPI-506 as a treatment for metastatic ... States and Canada.  --> ... --> In the Phase 1/2 clinical trial, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: