To determine the validity and reliability of clinician ratings of the driving competence of patients with mild dementia.
Observational study of a cross-section of drivers with mild dementia based on chart review by clinicians with varying types of expertise and experience.
Outpatient dementia clinic.
Fifty dementia subjects from a longitudinal study of driving and dementia.
Each clinician reviewed information from the clinic charts and the first study visit. The clinician then rated the drivers as safe, marginal, or unsafe. A professional driving instructor compared these ratings with total driving scores on a standardized road test and categorical ratings of driving competence. Clinicians also completed a visual analog scale assessment of variables that led to their determinations of driving competence.
Accuracy of clinician ratings ranged from 62% to 78% for the instructor’s global rating of safe versus marginal or unsafe. In general, there was moderate accuracy and interrater reliability. Accuracy could have been improved in the least-accurate raters by greater attention to dementia duration and severity ratings, as well as less reliance on the history and physical examination. The most accurate predictors were clinicians specially trained in dementia assessment, who were not necessarily the most experienced in their years of clinical experience.
Although a clinician may be able to identify many potentially hazardous drivers, accuracy is insufficient to suggest that a clinician’s assessment alone is adequate to determine driving competence in those with mild dementia.
dementia; driving; Alzheimer’s disease
This study assessed the clinical utility of contrast sensitivity (CS) relative to attention, executive function, and visuospatial abilities for predicting driving safety in participants with Parkinson's disease (PD). Twenty-five, non-demented PD patients completed measures of contrast sensitivity, visuospatial skills, executive functions, and attention. All PD participants also underwent a formal on-road driving evaluation. Of the 25 participants, 11 received a marginal or unsafe rating on the road test. Poorer driving performance was associated with worse performance on measures of CS, visuospatial constructions, set shifting, and attention. While impaired driving was associated with a range of cognitive and visual abilities, only a composite measure of executive functioning and visuospatial abilities, and not CS or attentional skills, predicted driving performance. These findings suggest that neuropsychological tests, which are multifactorial in nature and require visual perception and visual spatial judgments are the most useful screening measures for hazardous driving in PD patients.
Contrast sensitivity; Executive function; Visuospatial; Activities of daily living
A large number of licensed elderly drivers are demented or are likely to become demented. On-road driving tests, a method often used to assess driver competency, are likely anxiety-provoking for elderly individuals. This article examines the relationship between anxiety and driving performance in a mildly demented and elderly control (EC) sample.
Anxiety ratings of fear and tension, as assessed by visual analog scales, of 84 patients clinically diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s disease (AD) (68 safe/marginal and 16 unsafe drivers) were compared with those of 44 age- and education-equated safe/marginal EC participants, both before and after a standardized on-road driving test.
Analyses revealed significant positive correlations between AD patients’ pre–road test and post–road test tension and post–road test fear ratings and total road test score. Subsequent analyses of variance showed no significant pre–road test differences in fear ratings between the three groups but significantly higher levels of tension among the unsafe AD participants. After adjusting for baseline group differences, unsafe AD drivers experienced stable or higher anxiety levels after road test, whereas both the EC and safe/marginal AD drivers endorsed a significant reduction in anxiety.
Unlike their safe EC and safe AD driver counterparts, unsafe AD patients reported continued elevated levels of fear and tension after the road test. Given these findings, we suggest that the most appropriate time for driving instructors to counsel patients regarding their driving skills might be directly after the road test.
Alzheimer’s disease; Driving; Road test; Anxiety; Visual analog mood scales
Physicians and family members frequently are asked to provide information about driving ability in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), yet there has been little research on the validity of their assessments of driving performance.
Participants were recruited from the neurology department of a community hospital affiliated with Brown Medical School.
Participants included 75 older adults (17 with mild AD, 33 with very mild AD, and 25 elderly controls).
The participant him/herself, an informant, and an experienced neurologist rated each participant’s driving ability on a 3-point rating scale (safe, marginal, unsafe). A professional driving instructor also completed a standardized 108-point on-road driving assessment of each participant and then rated driving ability on the 3-point scale. Ratings were compared with the on-road driving score and with each other.
Only the neurologist’s rating of the participants’ driving abilities was significantly related to on-road driving score. When related to the instructor’s safety rating, the neurologist’s ratings were the most sensitive and specific. Mini-Mental State Examination score was a borderline covariate for the neurologist’s rating. Overall, the instructor was the most stringent rater of participant driving ability, followed by the neurologist, the informant, and the participant.
An experienced neurologist’s assessment of driving competence may be a valid predictor of driving performance of patients with early AD.
dementia; driving; assessment; Alzheimer’s disease
Neuropsychological and motor deficits in Parkinson’s disease that may contribute to driving impairment were examined in a cohort study comparing patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and to healthy elderly controls. Nondemented individuals with Parkinson’s disease [Hoehn & Yahr (H&Y) stage I–III], patients with Alzheimer’s disease [Clinical Demetia Rating scale (CDR) range 0–1], and elderly controls, who were actively driving, completed a neuropsychological battery and a standardized road test administered by a professional driving instructor. On-road driving ability was rated on number of driving errors and a global rating of safe, marginal, or unsafe. Overall, Alzheimer’s patients were more impaired drivers than Parkinson’s patients. Parkinson’s patients distinguished themselves from other drivers by a head-turning deficiency. Drivers with neuropsychological impairment were more likely to be unsafe drivers in both disease groups compared to controls. Compared to controls, unsafe drivers with Alzheimer’s disease were impaired across all neuropsychological measures except finger tapping. Driving performance in Parkinson’s patients was related to disease severity (H&Y), neuropsychological measures [Rey Osterreith Complex Figure (ROCF), Trails B, Hopkins Verbal List Learning Test (HVLT)-delay], and specific motor symptoms (axial rigidity, postural instability), but not to the Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) motor score. Multifactorial measures (ROCF, Trails B) were useful in distinguishing safe from unsafe drivers in both patient groups.
Dementia; Motor vehicles; Cognition; Memory; Neurodegenerative diseases; Basal ganglia
This study examined the ability of computerized maze test performance to predict the road test performance of cognitively impaired and normal older drivers. The authors examined 133 older drivers, including 65 with probable Alzheimer disease, 23 with possible Alzheimer disease, and 45 control subjects without cognitive impairment. Subjects completed 5 computerized maze tasks employing a touch screen and pointer as well as a battery of standard neuropsychological tests. Parameters measured for mazes included errors, planning time, drawing time, and total time. Within 2 weeks, subjects were examined by a professional driving instructor on a standardized road test modeled after the Washington University Road Test. Road test total score was significantly correlated with total time across the 5 mazes. This maze score was significant for both Alzheimer disease subjects and control subjects. One maze in particular, requiring less than 2 minutes to complete, was highly correlated with driving performance. For the standard neuropsychological tests, highest correlations were seen with Trail Making A (TrailsA) and the Hopkins Verbal Learning Tests Trial 1 (HVLT1). Multiple regression models for road test score using stepwise subtraction of maze and neuropsychological test variables revealed significant independent contributions for total maze time, HVLT1, and TrailsA for the entire group; total maze time and HVLT1 for Alzheimer disease subjects; and TrailsA for normal subjects. As a visual analog of driving, a brief computerized test of maze navigation time compares well to standard neuropsychological tests of psychomotor speed, scanning, attention, and working memory as a predictor of driving performance by persons with early Alzheimer disease and normal elders. Measurement of maze task performance appears to be useful in the assessment of older drivers at risk for hazardous driving.
driving; dementia; mild cognitive impairment; maze; computerized assessment
The objective was to compare a standardized road test to naturalistic driving by older people who may have cognitive impairment to define improvements that could potentially enhance the validity of road testing in this population.
Road testing has been widely adapted as a tool to assess driving competence of older people who may be at risk for unsafe driving because of dementia; however, the validity of this approach has not been rigorously evaluated.
For 2 weeks, 80 older drivers (38 healthy elders and 42 with cognitive impairment) who passed a standardized road test were video recorded in their own vehicles. Using a standardized rating scale, 4 hr of video was rated by a driving instructor. The authors examine weighting of individual road test items to form global impressions and to compare road test and naturalistic driving using factor analyses of these two assessments.
The road test score was unidimensional, reflecting a major factor related to awareness of signage and traffic behavior. Naturalistic driving reflected two factors related to lane keeping as well as traffic behavior.
Maintenance of proper lane is an important dimension of driving safety that appears to be relatively underemphasized during the highly supervised procedures of the standardized road test.
Road testing in this population could be improved by standardized designs that emphasize lane keeping and that include self-directed driving. Additional information should be sought from observers in the community as well as crash evidence when advising older drivers who may be cognitively impaired.
driving; aging; dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; cognitive impairment
To develop a cognitive and functional screening battery for the on-road performance of older drivers with dementia.
A prospective observational study.
On-road driving evaluation clinic at an academic rehabilitation center
Ninety-nine older people with dementia (63% male, mean age = 74.2 years, SD= 9), referred by community physicians to an Occupational Therapy driving clinic.
The outcome variable was pass/fail on the modified Washington University Road Test. Predictor measures were tests of visual, motor and cognitive functioning, selected for their empirical or conceptual relationship to the complex task of driving safely.
Sixty-five (65%) of participants failed the on-road driving test. The best predictive model, with an overall accuracy of up to 85% when participants were blinded, included AD-8 score, the Clock Drawing Test score, and the time to complete either the Snellgrove Maze Test (SMT) or Trail Making Test A. Visual and motor functioning were not associated with road driving test failure.
A screening battery that could be performed in less than 10 minutes predicted with good accuracy a failure rating on the on-road driving test in this sample of older drivers with dementia. A “probability of failure” calculator is provided from a logistic regression model that may be useful for clinicians in their decision to refer impaired older adults for further testing. More studies are needed in larger community based samples, along with discussions with patients, families and clinicians, in regards to acceptable levels of test uncertainty.
on-road driving safety; dementia; older drivers
Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to determine how Parkinson's disease (PD) affects driving performance. It also examined whether changes in driver safety were related to specific clinical disease markers or an individual's self rating of driving ability.
Methods: The driving performance of 25 patients with idiopathic PD and 21 age matched controls was assessed on a standardised open road route by an occupational therapist and driving instructor, to provide overall safety ratings and specific driving error scores.
Results: The drivers with PD were rated as significantly less safe (p<0.05) than controls, and more than half of the drivers with PD would not have passed a state based driving test. The driver safety ratings were more strongly related to disease duration (r = –0.60) than to their on time Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (r = –0.24). Drivers with PD made significantly more errors than the control group during manoeuvres that involved changing lanes and lane keeping, monitoring their blind spot, reversing, car parking, and traffic light controlled intersections. The driving instructor also had to intervene to avoid an incident significantly more often for drivers with PD than for controls. Interestingly, driver safety ratings were unrelated to an individual's rating of their own driving performance, and this was the case for all participants.
Conclusions: As a group, drivers with PD are less safe to drive than age matched controls. Standard clinical markers cannot reliably predict driver safety. Further studies are required to ascertain whether the identified driving difficulties can be ameliorated.
Demographically-adjusted norms are used to enhance accuracy of inferences based on neuropsychological assessment. However, we hypothesized that predictive accuracy regarding complex real-world activities is diminished by demographic corrections. Driving performance was assessed with a standardized on-road test in participants aged 65+ (24 healthy elderly, 26 Alzheimer’s disease, 33 Parkinson’s disease). Neuropsychological measures included Trailmaking A and B, Complex Figure, Benton Visual Retention, and Block Design tests. A multiple regression model with raw neuropsychological scores was significantly predictive of driving errors (R2 = .199, p <.005); a model with demographically-adjusted scores was not (R2 = .113, p >.10). Raw scores were more highly correlated than adjusted scores with each neuropsychological measure, and among both healthy elderly and Parkinson’s patients. Demographic corrections diminished predictive accuracy for driving performance, extending findings of Silverberg and Millis (2009) that competency in complex real-world activities depends on ability levels, regardless of demographic considerations.
aged; age factors; automobile driving; geriatric assessment; Parkinson’s; Alzheimer disease
A battery of standard neuropsychological tests examining various features of executive function, attention, and visual perception was administered to 27 subjects with questionable to mild dementia and compared to a 4-point caregiver rating scale of driving ability. Based on the results of this study, a computerized maze task, employing 10 mazes, was administered to a second sample of 40 normal elders and questionable to moderately demented drivers. Comparison was made to the same caregiver rating scale as well as to crash frequency. In the first study of neuropsychological tests, errors on Porteus Mazes emerged as the only significant predictor of driving ability in a stepwise regression analysis. In the follow-up study employing the computerized mazes, all 10 mazes were significantly related to driving ability ratings. Computerized tests of maze performance offer promise as a screening tool to identify potential driving impairment among cognitively impaired elderly and demented drivers.
driving; dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; neuropsychology; cognition
The purpose of this article is to review the literature on the ability of individuals with dementia to drive an automobile. Based on a review of the literature, several factors were identified that may be useful in differentiating between people with dementia who presently remain safe drivers from those who have progressed to impaired driving. These factors include disease duration and severity, sex, patient self-assessment, family assessment, neuropsychological measures, findings on road evaluations, and driving simulator testing. The approach of the physician to driving and dementia is addressed, including in-office screening, referral for on-road driving assessments, and the potential for physician reporting to state agencies.
dementia; driving; competence; impairment
To review the evidence regarding the usefulness of patient demographic characteristics, driving history, and cognitive testing in predicting driving capability among patients with dementia and to determine the efficacy of driving risk reduction strategies.
Systematic review of the literature using the American Academy of Neurology's evidence-based methods.
For patients with dementia, consider the following characteristics useful for identifying patients at increased risk for unsafe driving: the Clinical Dementia Rating scale (Level A), a caregiver's rating of a patient's driving ability as marginal or unsafe (Level B), a history of crashes or traffic citations (Level C), reduced driving mileage or self-reported situational avoidance (Level C), Mini-Mental State Examination scores of 24 or less (Level C), and aggressive or impulsive personality characteristics (Level C). Consider the following characteristics not useful for identifying patients at increased risk for unsafe driving: a patient's self-rating of safe driving ability (Level A) and lack of situational avoidance (Level C). There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the benefit of neuropsychological testing, after controlling for the presence and severity of dementia, or interventional strategies for drivers with dementia (Level U).
= American Academy of Neurology;
= Alzheimer disease;
= Clinical Dementia Rating;
= confidence interval;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= odds ratio;
= on-road driving test;
= Quality Standards Subcommittee;
= relative risk.
The aims of this study were to determine whether perceived sense of direction was associated with the driving space of older drivers and whether the association was different between genders. Participants (1,425 drivers aged 67–87 years) underwent a battery of visual and cognitive tests and completed various questionnaires. Sense of direction was assessed using the Santa Barbara Sense of Direction (SBSOD) scale. Driving space was assessed by both the driving space component of the Driving Habits Questionnaire and log maximum area driven. Analyses were performed using generalized linear models. The SBSOD score was lower in women than in men and significantly associated with log driving area in women but not in men. The SBSOD score also showed a significant association with women’s self-reported driving restriction. The findings emphasize the need to explore the role of psychological factors, and include gender, in driving studies and models.
Drivers; Driving restriction; Driving space; Gender; Navigational ability; Sense of direction
There are various methods to examine driving ability. Comparisons between these methods and their relationship with actual on-road driving is often not determined.
The objective of this study was to determine whether laboratory tests measuring driving-related skills could adequately predict on-the-road driving performance during normal traffic.
Ninety-six healthy volunteers performed a standardized on-the-road driving test. Subjects were instructed to drive with a constant speed and steady lateral position within the right traffic lane. Standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), i.e., the weaving of the car, was determined. The subjects also performed a psychometric test battery including the DSST, Sternberg memory scanning test, a tracking test, and a divided attention test. Difference scores from placebo for parameters of the psychometric tests and SDLP were computed and correlated with each other. A stepwise linear regression analysis determined the predictive validity of the laboratory test battery to SDLP.
Stepwise regression analyses revealed that the combination of five parameters, hard tracking, tracking and reaction time of the divided attention test, and reaction time and percentage of errors of the Sternberg memory scanning test, together had a predictive validity of 33.4%.
The psychometric tests in this test battery showed insufficient predictive validity to replace the on-the-road driving test during normal traffic.
Driving; SDLP; Psychometric tests; Predictive validity
The present study examined if knowledge of driving laws independently predicts on-the-road driving performance among cognitively impaired older adults.
The current study consisted of retrospective observational analyses on 55 cognitively impaired older adults (77.9 ± 6.4 years) that completed an on-the-road driving evaluation, a 20-item knowledge test of driving laws, and a brief cognitive test battery.
Logistic regression found poorer performance on the knowledge test was significantly associated with greater likelihood of recommended driving cessation beyond important demographic and cognitive variables (p < 0.05).
Cognitively impaired patients’ ability to drive may be related to their knowledge regarding common driving laws, in addition to their current level of cognitive functioning.
Cognitive impairment; Driving performance; Driving license; Road traffic; Knowledge of driving laws
This study was designed to examine the on-road driving performance of drivers with hemianopia and quadrantanopia compared with age-matched controls.
Participants included persons with hemianopia or quadrantanopia and those with normal visual fields. Visual and cognitive function tests were administered, including confirmation of hemianopia and quadrantanopia through visual field testing. Driving performance was assessed using a dual-brake vehicle and monitored by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. The route was 14.1 miles of city and interstate driving. Two “back-seat” evaluators masked to drivers’ clinical characteristics independently assessed driving performance using a standard scoring system.
Participants were 22 persons with hemianopia and 8 with quadrantanopia (mean age, 53 ± 20 years) and 30 participants with normal fields (mean age, 52 ± 19 years). Inter-rater agreement for back-seat evaluators was 96%. All drivers with normal fields were rated as safe to drive, while 73% (16/22) of hemianopic and 88% (7/8) of quadrantanopic drivers received safe ratings. Drivers with hemianopia or quadrantanopia who displayed on-road performance problems tended to have difficulty with lane position, steering steadiness, and gap judgment compared to controls. Clinical characteristics associated with unsafe driving were slowed visual processing speed, reduced contrast sensitivity and visual field sensitivity.
Some drivers with hemianopia or quadrantanopia are fit to drive compared with age-matched control drivers. Results call into question the fairness of governmental policies that categorically deny licensure to persons with hemianopia or quadrantanopia without the opportunity for on-road evaluation.
Background. Cognitive deterioration may impair COPD patient's ability to perform tasks like driving vehicles. We investigated: (a) whether subclinical neuropsychological deficits occur in stable COPD patients with mild hypoxemia (PaO2 > 55 mmHg), and (b) whether these deficits affect their driving performance. Methods. We recruited 35 stable COPD patients and 10 normal subjects matched for age, IQ, and level of education. All subjects underwent an attention/alertness battery of tests for assessing driving performance based on the Vienna Test System. Pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases, and dyspnea severity were also recorded. Results. COPD patients performed significantly worse than normal subjects on tests suitable for evaluating driving ability. Therefore, many (22/35) COPD patients were classified as having inadequate driving ability (failure at least in one of the tests), whereas most (8/10) healthy individuals were classified as safe drivers (P = 0.029). PaO2 and FEV1 were correlated with almost all neuropsychological tests. Conclusions. COPD patients should be warned of the potential danger and risk they face when they drive any kind of vehicle, even when they do not exhibit overt symptoms related to driving inability. This is due to the fact that stable COPD patients may manifest impaired information processing operations.
To compare self-reported driving difficulty by persons with hemianopic or quadrantanopic field loss with that reported by age-matched drivers with normal visual fields; and to examine how their self-reported driving difficulty compares to ratings of driving performance provided by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist (CDRS).
Participants were 17 persons with hemianopic field loss, 7 with quadrantanopic loss, and 24 age-matched controls with normal visual fields, all of whom had current drivers’ licenses. Information was collected via questionnaire regarding driving difficulties experienced in 21 typical driving situations grouped into 3 categories (involvement of peripheral vision, low visibility conditions, and independent mobility). On-road driving performance was evaluated by a CDRS using a standard assessment scale.
Drivers with hemianopic and quadrantanopic field loss expressed significantly more difficulty with driving maneuvers involving peripheral vision and independent mobility, compared to those with normal visual fields. Drivers with hemianopia and quadrantanopia who were rated as unsafe to drive based upon an on-road assessment by the CDRS were no more likely to report driving difficulty than those rated as safe.
This study highlights aspects of driving that hemianopic or quadrantanopic persons find particularly problematic, thus suggesting areas that could be focused on driving rehabilitation. Some drivers with hemianopia or quadrantanopia may inappropriately view themselves as good drivers when in fact their driving performance is unsafe as judged by a driving professional.
hemianopia; quadrantopia; visual field defect; driving; self-report
To identify neuropsychological factors associated with driving errors in older adults.
Cross-sectional observational study.
Neuropsychological assessment laboratory and an instrumented vehicle on a 35-mile route on urban and rural roads.
One hundred eleven older adult drivers (ages 65-89 years; mean age 72.3 years) and 80 middle-aged drivers (age 40 to 64 years; mean age 57.2 years).
Explanatory variables included age, neuropsychological measures (cognitive, visual, and motor), and a composite cognitive score (COGSTAT). The outcome variable was the safety error count, as classified by video review using a standardized taxonomy.
Older drivers committed an average of 35.8 safety errors/drive (SD=12.8), compared to an average of 28.8 (SD=9.8) for middle-age drivers (P<0.001). Among older drivers, there was an increase of 2.6 errors per drive observed for each five-year age increase (P=0.026). After adjustment for age, education, and gender, COGSTAT was a significant predictor of safety errors in older drivers (P=0.005), with approximately a 10% increase in safety errors observed for a 10% decrease in cognitive function. Individual significant predictors of increased safety errors in older drivers included poorer scores on Complex Figure Test-Copy, Complex Figure Test-Recall, Block Design, Near Visual Acuity, and the Grooved Pegboard task.
Driving errors in older adults tend to increase, even in the absence of neurological diagnoses. Some of this increase can be explained by age-related decline in cognitive abilities, vision, and motor skills. Changes in visuospatial and visuomotor abilities appear to be particularly associated with unsafe driving in old age.
Neuropsychological tests; cognitive decline; safety errors; instrumented vehicle
To evaluate the accuracy of the DriveABLE In-Office cognitive assessment in predicting cognitively impaired drivers’ performance on the DriveABLE On-Road Evaluation (DORE).
Retrospective study comparing data from DriveABLE In-Office cognitive assessment outcomes with DORE outcomes.
Nineteen of the locations in North America providing the DriveABLE assessment between the years 2007 and 2010.
Database records from 3662 patients (2639 men, mean age 74.1 years, range 18 to 99 years of age; 1023 women, mean age 73.5 years, range 18 to 94 years of age) with suspected or confirmed cognitive impairment. All patients were referred for DriveABLE evaluation and received both the In-Office cognitive assessment and, regardless of the In-Office test results, the DORE. This is a subset of the database because typically the DriveABLE In-Office cognitive assessment serves as the cognitive assessment and only those whose results are in the indeterminate range go on to complete the road test (ie, DORE).
Main outcome measures
Accuracy of the In-Office assessment for predicting the outcome of the DORE.
For the total sample, the error rate for predicting actual performance on the road test was 1.7% for pass predictions and 5.6% for fail predictions. Notably, these low error rates were consistent across the 4 years. On the basis of performance on the In-Office cognitive assessment, pass or fail decisions could have been made for more than half of the referrals, reducing the need to take dangerous drivers on the road and reducing the cost of the assessment process for patients and the system.
The accuracy of the DriveABLE In-Office cognitive assessment was evaluated in the context of normal clinical referral processes, with a large sample of referrals during a 4-year period and from multiple sites. The high and stable accuracy rates provide the evidence physicians need to be confident in using the recommendations from the DriveABLE cognitive evaluation to assist them in making evidence-based decisions about their patients’ ability to continue driving.
Cataract surgery is one of the most common medical procedures undertaken worldwide.
To investigate whether cataract surgery can improve driving performance and whether this can be predicted by changes in visual function.
29 older patients with bilateral cataracts and 18 controls with normal vision were tested. All were licensed drivers. Driving and vision performance were measured before cataract surgery and after second eye surgery for the patients with cataract and on two separate occasions for the controls. Driving performance was assessed on a closed‐road circuit. Visual acuity, contrast sensitivity, glare sensitivity and kinetic visual fields were measured at each test session.
Patients with cataract had significantly poorer (p<0.05) driving performance at the first visit than the controls for a range of measures of driving performance, which significantly improved to the level of the controls after extraction of both cataracts. The change in contrast sensitivity after surgery was the best predictor of the improvements in driving performance in patients with cataract.
Cataract surgery results in marked improvements in driving performance, which are related to concurrent improvements in contrast sensitivity.
Experimental research has shown that 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) can improve some psychomotor driving skills when administered during the day. In real life, however, MDMA is taken during the night, and driving may likely occur early in the morning after a night of “raving” and sleep loss.
The present study assessed the effects of MDMA on road-tracking and car-following performance in on-the-road driving tests in normal traffic.
Sixteen recreational MDMA users participated in a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled four-way cross-over design. They received single, evening doses of 0, 25, 50, and 100 mg MDMA on separate occasions. Actual driving tests were conducted in the evening when MDMA serum concentrations were maximal and in the morning after a night of sleep loss.
The primary measure of driving, i.e., standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP, a measure of weaving) was significantly increased during driving tests in the morning in all treatment conditions, irrespective of MDMA dose and concentration. The increments in SDLP were of high clinical relevance and comparable to those observed for alcohol at blood alcohol concentrations >0.8 mg/mL. These impairments were primarily caused by sleep loss.
In general, MDMA did not affect driving performance nor did it change the impairing effects of sleep loss. It is concluded that MDMA cannot compensate for the impairing effects of sleep loss and that drivers who are under the influence of MDMA and sleep deprived are unfit to drive.
Driving under the influence of drugs; DUID; MDMA; Ecstasy; Sleep deprivation; Oral fluid
Performance on cognitive tests can be affected by age, education, and also selection bias. We examined the distribution of scores on a several cognitive screening tests by age and educational levels in a population-based cohort.
An age-stratified random sample of individuals aged 65+ years was drawn from the electoral rolls of an urban U.S. community. Those obtaining age and education-corrected scores ≥ 21/30 on the Mini-Mental State Examination were designated as cognitively normal or only mildly impaired, and underwent a full assessment including a battery of neuropsychological tests. Participants were also rated on the Clinical Dementia Rating scale. The distribution of neuropsychological test scores within demographic strata, among those receiving a CDR of 0 (no dementia), are reported here as cognitive test norms. After combining individual test scores into cognitive domain composite scores, multiple linear regression models were used to examine associations of cognitive test performance with age, and education.
In this cognitively normal sample of older adults, younger age and higher education were associated with better performance in all cognitive domains. Age and education together explained 22% of the variation of memory, and less of executive function, language, attention, and visuospatial function.
Older age and lesser education are differentially associated with worse neuropsychological test performance in cognitively normal older adults representative of the community at large. The distribution of scores in these participants can serve as population-based norms for these tests, and be especially useful to clinicians and researchers assessing older adults outside specialty clinic settings.
Neuropsychological tests; epidemiology; normative; community
Our ability to predict aging related declines in driving performance from off-road assessments have clinical practice and social policy implications.
1) To describe longitudinal changes in mean-level and evaluate rank-order stability in potential predictors of driving safety (visual sensory, motor, visual attention, and cognitive functioning) and safety errors during an 18-mile on-road-drive-test among older adults. 2) To evaluate the relative predictive power of earlier visual sensory, motor, visual attention, and cognitive functioning on future safety errors controlling for earlier driving capacity.
A three-year longitudinal observational study;
A large teaching hospital in the Mid-West;
111 neurologically normal older adults (60 to 89 years at baseline);
Safety errors based on video review of a standard 18-mile on-road driving test served as the outcome measure. Comprehensive battery of tests on the predictor side included visual sensory functioning, motor functioning, cognitive functioning, and a measure of Useful Field of View.
Longitudinal changes in mean-levels of safety errors and cognitive functioning were small from year-to-year. Relative rank-order stability between consecutive assessments was moderate in overall safety errors, it was moderate to strong in visual attention and cognitive functioning. While prospective bivariate correlations ranged from fair to moderate between safety errors and predictors, only functioning in the cognitive domain predicted future driver performance one and two-years later in multivariate analyses.
Normative aging related declines in driver performance as assessed by on-road tests emerge slowly. The findings clearly demonstrated that even in the presence conservative controls, such as previous driving ability, age, visual sensory and motor functioning, cognitive functioning predicted future driving performance on-road one and two-years later.
neuropsychological tests; safety errors; cognitive decline; instrumented vehicle