Researchers studying driving habits and accident rates among the elderly found a majority surveyed supported mandatory retesting of drivers based on age while saying they would hand over the keys if a doctor or loved one said they were no longer fit to drive.
"We are now exploring the idea of an advance directive for driving where someone would be designated to take away your keys at some point," said Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, at the University of Colorado School of Medicine who led the study and presented it in May before the American Society of Geriatrics. "It is a very difficult subject. Children don't want to bring it up, older drivers are afraid to lose their licenses and doctors may not feel it is not their job."
The study surveyed 122 elderly people and found 71 percent supported mandatory, age-based driver retesting. It also showed that 68 percent believed family and 53 percent believed doctors should decide whether a license should be revoked. Only 28 percent said the Department of Motor Vehicles and 26 percent said the police should make that decision.
Some 89 percent said they might quit driving if their doctor advised it compared to 75 percent who would agree if it was their family's idea. Twelve percent reported a crash in the last year and 87 percent of current drivers said they had at least one medical diagnosis possibly linked to increased crash risk. The elderly drivers also reported taking a median of seven medications each.
Betz, an associate professor of emergency medicine, said the problem is growing as more and more baby boomers retire. Still, she said, despite sensational stories of the elderly crashing into crowds or running people down, drivers over age 75 are responsible for only four percent of pedestrian fatalities. But older drivers do have high motor vehicle accidents per miles driven with less ability to recover from injuries due to their often frail condition.
"We are trying to develop a screening test to identify higher risk drivers," she said. "The tool is a simple questionnaire with questions like, `Do you get confused by driving? Do people recommend you stop driving?'"
If someone is deemed unsafe to drive, Betz said, the question is who should notify the Department of Motor Vehicles - doctors, family or both?
"This is where the advance driving directive could come in," Betz said. "We would have something in writing that says when the time comes who do you trust to make the decision that you can no longer safely drive?"
Each state has its own method of determining whether elderly drivers are competent, most include a vision test. Betz, who recently received a Merck/American Geriatrics Society Young Investigator award, said there is more to it than that.
"It is not all about vision. There are complications from diabetes that may affect driving, cognitive problems – does a person forget how to make a left turn? – and dementia which may develop in some at age 60 and others at 90," she said. "The drugs they may be taking could also have side-effects that impact driving ability. Ultimately, this is a public health issue that needs to be addressed in a coherent way involving family, doctors and state authorities."
Betz's study was funded by the University of Colorado Hartford/Jahnigen Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine, the Emergency Medicine Foundation and the Colorado Injury Control Research Center.
Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, The Children's Hospital, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the UC Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is located on the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the University of Colorado Denver newsroom.
David Kelly | EurekAlert!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
22.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.01.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.01.2018 | Life Sciences