Study Focuses on Driving Safety for Elderly: 1000 Older Drivers Needed in 8 Cities

(May 11, 2009 —Thunder Bay, ON)

Candrive — the Canadian Driving Research Initiative for Vehicular Safety in the Elderly — is looking to recruit volunteers for a long-term study of older drivers to determine the key factors that impact their driving safety. Study results will help in the development of a simple, objective screening tool that will assist health-care professionals to identify the characteristics of safe and unsafe older drivers, and refer those deemed at risk for further assessment. This will help to alleviate many of the problems and inconsistencies doctors and families face in attempting to determine fitness to drive.

Study investigators need 1000 older drivers, aged 70 and older, to be recruited from eight Canadian cities: Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, and Montreal. Lead researcher in Thunder Bay is Dr. Michel Bédard, the Canada Research Chair in Aging and Health, and the former Director of the Public Health program at Lakehead University.

“If an older driver is in an accident, often there is a call for all older drivers to be removed or tested,” says Dr. Bédard. “This is ironic because literature supports that some of the safest drivers on the road are older drivers. We reject a call for any age-based restrictions on driving,” says Bédard.

Candrive is the brainchild of two Ottawa doctors, Dr. Shawn Marshall and Dr. Malcolm Man-Son-Hing, of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, who decided eight years ago to address the many driving issues that affect seniors. Reacting to what are often unfair portrayals in the media, the doctors strongly reject age-based restrictions on driving, preferring instead to look at how the symptoms of medical conditions can affect a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities.

Candrive was recently awarded an impressive $5.5 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant to continue its work for the next five years. It has established a national network of diverse Canadian researchers interested in older driver issues, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, kinesiologists, epidemiologists, and a number of medical specialists in geriatric medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, rheumatology and geriatric psychiatry.

Candrive has formed partnerships with key seniors’ groups, organizations, and governmental and non-governmental agencies to develop political, legislative and moral support for its research agenda. In addition to the long-term study, funding is also provided to conduct seven subprojects in various Canadian cities, all centred on issues related to older adults and driving, such as the psychosocial, cultural, social, and legal aspects of ensuring safety and quality of life for older drivers. Candrive has already influenced transportation policies and has the interest of international researchers and administrators.

Candrive hopes to begin the long-term study soon but needs Thunder Bay area participants. Anyone over the age of 70 (who owns a 1996 or newer vehicle and drives at least once a week), who is interested in finding out more about the study, is asked to call 1 866 233 1133 or 807-766-7256.

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Media:  Dr. Michel Bedard is available for media interviews. For more information contact Lisa Pelot, Communications Officer, at 343-8177, or commun@lakeheadu.ca

About Lakehead
Lakehead is a comprehensive university with a reputation for innovative programs and cutting-edge research. With a main campus located in Thunder Bay, Ontario and a campus in Orillia, Ontario, Lakehead has over 7,900 students and 2,250 faculty and staff, and is home to the west campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. In 2006, Research Infosource Inc. named Lakehead University Canada's Research University of the Year in the undergraduate category. For more information on Lakehead University, visit www.lakeheadu.ca
 

 

Last updated May 13, 2009

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