Driving Ability Index (DAI) for Assessing Elderly People’s Performance
Authors: Michele Meloni a, Claudia Pinna b, Luigi Lecca c, Gianfranco Fancello b
Abstract: Aging results in a physiological decline in physical, cognitive and sensory abilities, which are required for executing complex tasks such as driving (Metzner et al, 1993). Accident rates are higher for older drivers and increase exponentially for over 75 year olds (Guerrier, et al. 1999). Moreover accidents in which elderly persons are involved are characterized by more severe injuries, due to the decline in their physical condition, owing to comorbidities and skeletal fragility. It is important to stress that not all older drivers are dangerous (Langford, et al., 2006): on the contrary they drive cautiously and their experience can outweigh the physical disadvantages. In addition, they are aware of their limitations at the wheel and thus behave prudently and rarely commit traffic offences. One major problem of general interest is associated with the fact that elderly persons are the fastest growing segment within the population and the ability to drive is one way of maintaining their autonomy and independence as well as social participation (Fonda et al., 2001). For this reason, there is an increasing need to evaluate objectively the physical and mental fitness of older drivers. The aim of this study is to identify an index for measuring and monitoring the driving ability of elderly persons. The tool proposed was developed by adapting the Work Ability Index (Ilmarinen J., 1999), widely used in occupational medicine to evaluate the ability to work, to evaluate the ability todrive. Like the Work Ability Index (WAI), the Driving Ability Index (DAI) is calculated on the basis of appropriately processed responses to a series of questions contained in a questionnaire. Based on the responses, the index value is calculated, which can vary from 7 to 49. In this way it is possible to identify the level of ability of elderly persons at the wheel. The survey involved 54 older drivers over the age of 65. The objective of the study was to develop an easy-to-manage tool for measuring and monitoring the driving ability of elderly persons, that can also be used for driving licence renewal. The utility of such a tool for a population of vulnerable road users lies in its ability to detect early signs of a decline in driving skills and devise actions to strengthen their positive abilities and reduce risks while driving.
Keywords: Driving Ability Index, elderly drivers, fitness to drive
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