Project

Safe driving with early dementia: how far can we look ahead?

This research focuses on improving the existing test procedure for drivers in the very early stages of dementia. It will provide better substantiation for the use of the test procedure and the decision on the fitness to drive of car drivers.

This is of benefit to the safety of the driver, any passengers and other road users. At the same time it reduces the risk of wrongful suspension of the driving license, therefore preserving independent mobility for the driver with dementia and his family.

Research questions

  1. Is it possible to determine for a longer period of time whether drivers with early dementia can drive safely?
  2. What is the added value of a hazard perception test measuring eye movements?
  3. How far can we reliably look ahead in the case of a progressive disease like dementia?
  4. Do these drivers have sufficient insight in their own performance to adapt their behaviour accordingly? And what are the possibilities of providing support through in-vehicle technology (ITS)?

Background

Currently, about 250 000 people in the Netherlands suffer from dementia. In 2040, this number is expected to have doubled. Research shows that drivers with dementia have an increased risk of crashes, similar to the risk of the use of drugs and medicines in traffic. However, in the early stages of dementia, people can often still drive safely. Since late 2009, Dutch drivers with (very) mild dementia are therefore allowed to continue driving if they perform well on a number of neuropsychological tests (validated in the recently completed FITCI-project by carried out by SWOV, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and The Dutch Driving Test Organisation (CBR)) and the practical driving test of CBR. Depending on the result, the driving licence is renewed for 1, 2 or 3 years. Although carefully composed, the test is a snapshot under special conditions. We now want to know whether this approach also makes a valid prediction of driving behaviour in daily practice and, given the progressive nature of dementia, for what period. Furthermore, we also want to determine whether a hazard perception test measuring viewing behaviour has a positive effect on the validity of the predictions.

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Status

Completed
Start date: 01 Jan 2016
End date: 31 Dec 2016