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Enhancement of Driving Performance Among Older Drivers. Research conducted by Yale University School of Medicine. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Established in 1947 501 (c)(3) Not-For-Profit Research affiliate of AAA/CAA North American Focus. Mission. Identify traffic safety problems

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Enhancement of Driving Performance Among Older Drivers

Research conducted by Yale University School of Medicine

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AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

  • Established in 1947

  • 501 (c)(3) Not-For-Profit

  • Research affiliate of AAA/CAA

  • North American Focus

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  • Identify traffic safety problems

  • Foster research that seeks solutions

  • Disseminate information and educational materials

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Published October 2007

Prepared by:

Yale University School of Medicine

Available online at:


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Our Aging Population...

  • Over 27 million Americans are 70 years old or older.

    • An estimated 20 million of them are licensed drivers.

    • U.S. Census Bureau estimates 37 million Americans will be 70+ by 2020, and over 50 million 70+ by 2030

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...and their need for safe mobility

  • Over 500,000 drivers aged 70+ were involved in police-reported crashes in 2006

    • nearly 100,000 drivers 70+ injured

    • 2,819 killed

  • Many older adults need to drive to maintain independence; not driving associated with:

    • decreased participation in out-of-home activities

    • increased depressive symptoms

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Driver improvement courses

  • Usually consist of classroom-based instruction, some also include behind-the-wheel training or practice

  • Research is mixed — most studies haven’t found benefits with classroom instruction, but a recent study found classroom + behind-the-wheel was effective

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Purpose of study

  • To determine whether a driver training program including both in-class instruction and behind-the-wheel training could help older adults improve their driving

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About the study: Driver Training Program

  • 8 hours of classroom instruction

    • based on AAA Driver Improvement Program

    • taught by AAA-certified instructors

    • topics included: driving risk, communication, speed, effects of medications on driving, vehicle safety features, etc.

  • Two behind-the-wheel sessions

    • First session addressed errors the driver made in initial road test

    • Second session reviewed these and addressed other common difficulties of older drivers

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About the study: Participants

  • Age 70+

  • valid Connecticut license

  • drive at least once a week

  • no serious medical problems

  • vision 20/70 or better

  • had not taken any driver education course in past year

  • initial road test score not “too low” (too dangerous) or “too high” (don’t need to take driving class)

  • recruited from medical clinics and elsewhere in community

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About the study: Evaluation

  • 126 participants randomly assigned to either of 2 groups:

    • 69 took the Driver Training Program (“driver training group”)

    • 57 took an alternative program that did not involve any driving instruction, training, or practice (“control group”)

  • Both groups took knowledge test and road test before program and repeated tests 8 weeks later

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  • Drivers who participated in the driver training program improved their scores on both the knowledge test and the road test

  • The driver education group improved more than the control group, and the difference was statistically significant

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Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Older drivers who participated in this driver training program significantly improved their driving

  • More research is needed to:

    • determine what components of the program are most effective

    • identify what drivers can benefit most from this type of program

    • study the longer-term safety impact of the training program—does it prevent crashes?

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For more information,

please go to:


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The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) public charity located in Washington, DC that is dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries.

It is supported by donations from AAA/CAA Clubs, AAA/CAA members, and other organizations associated with AAA/CAA.