Older adults represent a growing sector of the driving population in Australia, and while driving can be important for maintaining social engagement in late life, age-related changes such as cognitive and visual impairment can impact on driving safety.
The Driving, Ageing, Safety and Health (DASH) project is designed to develop and validate screening measures for older drivers to support determinations of driving safety. The DASH project is a collaboration with Joanne Wood and the Queensland University of Technology.
Over 550 older drivers, across three groups, were followed for two years to evaluate how well laboratory assessments and an on-road test predict driving outcomes. The three groups included a) older drivers referred for assessment by GPs and Road Safety Authorities, b) older drivers with eye disease and c) older drivers drawn from the community.
- To validate a short screening battery for older drivers called the Multi‑D based on the Multifactorial Model of Driving Safety, a theoretical model of the abilities involved in safe driving and knowledge of age-related changes in cognitive, visual and sensorimotor function
- To compare the Multi‑D and existing screening approaches including Hazard Perception, Road Rules Knowledge, the Useful Field of View, and the Drivesafe tests to determine whether combining measures improves the accuracy of classification of safe and unsafe drivers.
- To compare the efficacy of the Multi‑D and other screening instruments in predicting prospective self-reported crash rates (derived from standardized monthly diaries) between three groups of older drivers
- To evaluate the screening instruments and assessments in relation to mobility outcomes (driving cessation, driving frequency, driving distance) over two years and longer pending further funding
- To collaborate with practitioners to develop clinical practice guidelines for using the Multi‑D battery in the context of older driver assessment
- To inform the development and design of interventions to prevent injuries among older drivers.
Findings from this research project will enable health professionals and licensing authorities to assist in their decision-making regarding the fitness to drive of older adults.
DASH is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.