Conference Proceeding

Real-Time Effects of Age-Related Cognitive Dysfunction on Driver Vehicle Control

Authors: , , ,


This study tackles the need to understand how driver behavior deteriorates in advancing age, with the direct goal of improving real-world assessments of age-related cognitive dysfunction and safety in older drivers. Older drivers are at-risk for cognitive dysfunction, which may lead to dementia and elevates the risk of errors that may lead to crashes. Prior research on older drivers is critically limited by studying behavior in laboratory and controlled settings. To advance the field and overcome these limitations, we combine sensor-based technologies for continuous, real-world monitoring of driver behavior with comprehensive assessments of older drivers’ cognitive function. We assess patterns of vehicle control across each driver’s personal profile of cognitive function and link age-related cognitive dysfunction to changes in safety-relevant vehicle control. We find that age-related cognitive dysfunction effects braking and accelerating behaviors, but not steering behaviors, across wide-spread driving environments. Older drivers with worse cognitive function drove less yet did not reduce exposure to specific environments that may carry greater risk. Exposure patterns suggest potential maladaptive compensatory behavioral tradeoffs that lessen older driver mobility without sufficiently mitigating safety risks. Results demonstrate that older driver behavior is highly context dependent, suggesting specific targets for interventions to improve safety while preserving mobility and quality of life, and underscore the value of using the vehicle for sensing and monitoring driver functional capacity and subsequent risk for age-related cognitive dysfunction.


How to Cite: Merickel, J. , High, R. , Dawson, J. & Rizzo, M. (2019) “Real-Time Effects of Age-Related Cognitive Dysfunction on Driver Vehicle Control”, Driving Assessment Conference. 10(2019). doi: