The Changing Memory, Technology and Driving Study (MemTech) aims to investigate whether a dashboard camera and a GPS data logger can be used to measure changes in safety during an older driver’s everyday driving trips. Here, Scientia Professor Kaarin Anstey gives us an insight into the MemTech project and the positive impact the valuable research will have on the future development of in-vehicle monitoring projects for driving safety.
What is the MemTech project about?
Aside from regular check-ups with a doctor, there are no accurate methods for objectively monitoring driver safety changes in the early stages of cognitive decline. Older drivers experiencing progressive neurodegenerative conditions like dementia may also experience a decline in their driving skills. The project has been designed to examine whether measures obtained from non-intrusive in-vehicle devices, like dashcams or GPS vehicle motion loggers, can detect driver safety changes associated with cognitive decline.
What led you to undertake research into this specific area?
Driving is critical for most people’s independence and life participation. Identifying the right time to cease driving is very difficult for drivers with cognitive decline, their families, and their clinicians. Gradually progressive conditions like dementia mean that an affected driver may remain safe to drive for some time before skills and safety decline.
Advances in technology mean that devices that can measure location, motion and driver behaviour are increasingly accessible and discreet. In-vehicle devices may help drivers and clinicians to monitor safety in an objective way. To do this, we need to know which measures can accurately differentiate drivers experiencing safety changes as a result of cognitive decline.
What impact are you hoping this research will have on the community at large?
This research will potentially inform future development of tools for monitoring driver safety changes, which would enhance community approaches to balancing independence and safety as people age. This will greatly benefit the safety of older drivers.