Cognitive function and driving in middle adulthood

does age matter?

Abstract

Objective: There is an established relationship in the literature between cognitive function and driving performance in older drivers and new evidence suggests that this relationship also exists in younger drivers. Given this, it follows that this relationship may exist for all drivers, however the relationship between cognitive function and driving in drivers in middle adulthood has not yet been examined. The current study therefore aims to examine this relationship of overall cognitive function and driving, as well as the individual cognitive domains relevant to driving for drivers in middle adulthood. Method: The participants were 89 drivers aged between 25 and 65 years. Each participant was assessed on a battery of cognitive tests and completed a drive on a driving simulator. Measures of driving performance included speeding, lane deviation, and an overall driving performance score. Results: The results showed new evidence to suggest overall cognitive function can predict speeding and overall driving performance. In addition, the cognitive domains of mental status, executive function and memory were found to be significant individual predictors in this cohort. Conclusions: Taken together with previous findings, this study provides evidence to suggest that cognitive function is important to driving across the lifespan. The generalisability of the current results are limited due to the majority of participants being from a university sample, therefore these findings will need to be replicated in a more representative sample. Future research should focus on the development of a comprehensive model to explain driving performance across all ages and across traffic psychology disciplines.

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Keywords

  • cognitive function
  • driving
  • middle adulthood

Cite this

Ledger, Selena ; Bennett, Joanne M. ; Chekaluk, Eugene ; Batchelor, Jennifer ; Meco, Andrea Di. / Cognitive function and driving in middle adulthood : does age matter?. In: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour. 2019 ; Vol. 66. pp. 471-484.