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J R Soc Med. 1992 April; 85(4): 199–202.
PMCID: PMC1294722

Dementia and driving.


Many European countries test cars, but not their drivers, as they age. There is evidence to suggest that human factors are more important than vehicular factors as causes of motor crashes. The elderly also are involved in more accidents per distance travelled than middle-aged drivers. As the UK relies on self-certification of health by drivers over the age of 70 years, we examined the driving practices of patients with dementia attending a Memory Clinic. Nearly one-fifth of 329 patients with documented dementia continued to drive after the onset of dementia, and impaired driving ability was noted in two-thirds of these. Their families experienced great difficulty in persuading patients to stop driving, and had to invoke outside help in many cases. Neuropsychological tests did not help to identify those who drove badly while activity of daily living scores were related to driving ability. These findings suggest that many patients with dementia drive in an unsafe fashion after the onset of the illness. The present system of self-certification of health by the elderly for driver-licensing purposes needs to be reassessed.

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Selected References

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