Assessing the impact of health on driving performance
Every year across the globe 1.24 million people die in motor vehicle collisions and up to 50 million others suffer from disabling injuries. Vehicle collisions are also the number one cause of accidental death in Canada and cost Canadians $62.7 billion per year. Overrepresented in these statistics are older adults, who are involved in as many crashes per kilometer driven as 16 year olds. This is likely due to the increased prevalence of age-related medical conditions, including sensory and cognitive impairments that often go undiagnosed. That said, as people age, driving helps them to maintain independence; it signifies health, well-being, activity and freedom. Losing one’s license can be catastrophic. Therefore, it is important to support driving in older adults for as long as safely possible. Given that by 2024 one quarter of Canada’s driving population will be over 65, now is the time to address this growing concern.
The primary objective of this project is to determine the impact of health on driving performance to increase driver safety in healthy older drivers and patient populations. This will be accomplished using CEAL’s state of the art driving simulator, DriverLab. More specifically, we aim to:
- Support independent aging through customized licensing for individual based driving restrictions
- Examine the impact of medical conditions on driving performance
- Examine the effects of medication on driving performance
- Address the associations between major sleep disorders and driving performance
- Establish best practices for driver testing and training
- Develop optimized driving simulation technologies
- Evaluate vehicle design features for an aging population
For more detailed information on each of these goals, refer to the following document: DriverLab_Infosheet_Research
Opioids and Driving Project
In this project, we are investigating the effect of opioids on driving performance, using a motion-based high fidelity driving simulator (DriverLab). Opioids are prescribed as painkillers for patients with chronic pain. Canada is the second largest user of opioids per capita in the world, and the province of Ontario has the highest rate of prescriptions in the country. Driving a motor vehicle is a complex task requiring attention, concentration, eye-hand coordination, motor control, and visual/auditory/proprioceptive information processing. Because opioids have a broad impact on the central nervous system, they can affect these processes, and may impair driving as a result. Our goal in this research is to determine if there is any significant effect of opioids on driving performance and to provide a scientific basis for future guidelines on opioid use.