CanDrive study will observe older Canadian drivers for five years

CanDrive, founded in 2002, investigates senior citizens and road safety. The aim of CanDrive is to not only to keep the roads safe but improve the health, safety and quality-of-life for older adults in Canada.
One of the ways CanDrive is working to improve the roads is through an extensive study that will be started this year funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Using the grant money from a CIHR Team Grant of $5.5 million the study will track the key factors that impact older drivers in Canada. The study will be headed by Malcolm Man-Son-Hing, MD MSc FRCPC and Shawn Marshall, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Ottawa. This study will take five years to complete and focus on a national interdisciplinary approach to improve the safety of older drivers. Other funds have come from the Alzheimer Society, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, Canadian Stroke Network, Physicians’ Service Incorporated, AUTO 21 and Reseau Provincial de Recherche en Adaption-readaptation.

Encompassing a total of eight projects the study will be longitudinal. One of the goals will be to have a standard tool for health care providers to identity drivers who have an increased risk for at-fault motor vehicle collisions.

Using a sample size of 1,000 drivers over the age of 70 and Global Positioning Systems built into cars, researchers will be able to determine how older drivers are effected by both aging and by environmental factors. The study will take place in Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal. There will also be an international element taking place with studies being conducted in Australia and Michigan.

The study will look at the natural life of the driving adult through the time of transition of driving cessation. As for the phase of life when a driver has to give up their car keys, the study will observe the life changes such as depression that are a direct impact from this time period.

CanDrive has formed a valuable partnership with key seniors groups. That connection has helped CanDrive gain a confidence in the older population. Other partnerships have been formed with both government and non-government agencies.

There is much already known about the older driver. Risks that are perceived by the public, such as a loss of vision may not be as high as the media often reports. It is true that older drivers tend to have more left-turn crashes than other sectors of the population. It is also true that the mortality rates are higher for elderly drivers in a crash than younger drivers. That does not have to do with the severity of accidents but rather to the fact an older person has other health issues to deal with. It appears that protective devices like air-bags are not as helpful for older adults, which can effect statistics.

For those interested in being a part of the study please contact Jennifer Biggs, RN at 613-851-3858 or Anita Jessup, RN, BA at 613-240-8616 or 1-866-233-1133.

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