The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety granted the University Transportation Research Institute a contract to conduct research on the effects of age on driving. The University’s contract, as well as a similar contract given to Columbia University, will fund research in New York, Maryland, Colorado and California.

Research Prof. David Eby, head of the Behavioral Sciences Group at UMTRI, will serve as the co-principal investigator on the UMTRI portion of the project. The project will last five years and address topics such as the effects of medication on driving behavior and outcomes. The pilot of the study will begin in the spring.

Eby said while this is the first extensive study on this topic in the United States, graduate students from the University of Ottawa, McMaster University and McGill University have been working on a similar study called “Candrive.”

UMTRI is one of five sites for the study, but will be fully responsible for collecting and analyzing GPS data from every site. Every participant will have a GPS in their car to track their driving patterns, and the investigators will also conduct annual assessments and interviews of participants. Prior to the study, the investigators will collect data on participants’ medical, crash and driving history records.

According to a press release, 3,000 people aged 65 to 79 will participate, and UMTRI will recruit and observe 600 participants. Investigators will observe participants’ driving patterns and consider individual health factors, such as medication taken.

“When completed, this combination of data on individuals over time will be an extremely powerful tool to better understand older drivers,” Lindsay Ryan, assistant research scientist at the Survey Research Center in the University Institute for Social Research and one of the principal investigators for the Michigan site of the study. “While this is an extremely ambitious project in scale and scope, the team of experts leading the efforts have an excellent track record and are well-prepared to complete this work.”

Dr. Raymund Yung and Linda Nyquist, of the University Institute of Gerontology, will be working with the principal investigators to recruit participants.

Nyquist said all participants must be residents of Ann Arbor and already receive health care from the University Health System.

“Age is the biggest risk factor for many common diseases such as arthritis, memory loss and movement disorders,” Yung said. “All of which are factors that may result in an older driver deciding to continue to drive or not.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.