Chronological age and age-related cognitive deficits are associated with an increase in multiple types of driving errors in late life

Anstey, Kaarin J. & Wood, Joanne M. (2011) Chronological age and age-related cognitive deficits are associated with an increase in multiple types of driving errors in late life. Neuropsychology, 25(5), pp. 613-621.

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Objective: Older driver research has mostly focused on identifying that small proportion of older drivers who are unsafe. Little is known about how normal cognitive changes in aging affect driving in the wider population of adults who drive regularly. We evaluated the association of cognitive function and age, with driving errors.

Method: A sample of 266 drivers aged 70 to 88 years were assessed on abilities that decline in normal aging (visual attention, processing speed, inhibition, reaction time, task switching) and the UFOV® which is a validated screening instrument for older drivers. Participants completed an on-road driving test. Generalized linear models were used to estimate the associations of cognitive factor with specific driving errors and number of errors in self-directed and instructor navigated conditions.

Results: All errors types increased with chronological age. Reaction time was not associated with driving errors in multivariate analyses. A cognitive factor measuring Speeded Selective Attention and Switching was uniquely associated with the most errors types. The UFOV predicted blindspot errors and errors on dual carriageways. After adjusting for age, education and gender the cognitive factors explained 7% of variance in the total number of errors in the instructor navigated condition and 4% of variance in the self-navigated condition.

Conclusion: We conclude that among older drivers errors increase with age and are associated with speeded selective attention particularly when that requires attending to the stimuli in the periphery of the visual field, task switching, errors inhibiting responses and visual discrimination. These abilities should be the target of cognitive training.

Impact and interest:

38 citations in Scopus
33 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 47276
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Older driver, cognitive changes, driving errors
DOI: 10.1037/a0023835
ISSN: 0894-4105
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 American Psychological Association
Deposited On: 28 Nov 2011 22:19
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2017 19:16

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