Study Looks at Drivers' Age and Memory Loss

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 1:13pm

A new study out of the East Coast will determine whether older drivers with memory loss should take to the wheel.

When it comes to driving, some people say older drivers are involved in more accidents than younger ones. "There are people who are old but are still very up to drive," Arturo Del Real, a West El Pasoan tells us.

We also spoke with a AAA spokesperson on the phone to set the record straight. "Recent data tells us that drivers in their 70s get into about the same number of crashes per mile driven as do drivers in their 30s," Doug Shupe, the Senior Public Affairs Specialist for AAA Texas says.

However, experts say it may be riskier to get behind the wheel if you're older. That's because driving abilities decline as we age, and if you have memory loss, that may increase the danger.

"No, if they have memory loss, then they're not safe to drive," Del Real says.

"I think it needs to be something that needs to be looked at, to make a definite determination," Raul Donohoe, a East El Paso resident adds.

And it is being looked at. A National Institute of Health studty based in Rhode Island is surveying more than 100 older drivers.

"To try to determine how well does a road test evaluation reflect how safe someone is driving in the real world," Dr. Brian Ott, a Researcher with the study says. Researchers say this study combines a standardized test with camera observation. The study is in its infancy and will be conducted over a 9-month period. But if you're concerned about your driving you can check out

"There's a self-rating tool you can actually answer 15 questions to understand if you're going to be having some issues with driving when you get older," Shupe says.

And about that old myth, AAA says if you compare age ranges:

"On average, drivers in their mid to late 80s still have a lower crash rate per mile driven than drivers in their drivers in their early 20s... of course teens being the nation's riskiest drivers," Shupe tells us.



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