Naturalistic validation of an on-road driving test of older drivers

Brian R. Ott, George D. Papandonatos, Jennifer D. Davis, Peggy P. Barco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective was to compare a standardized road test to naturalistic driving by older people who may have cognitive impairment to define improvements that could potentially enhance the validity of road testing in this population. Background: Road testing has been widely adapted as a tool to assess driving competence of older people who may be at risk for unsafe driving because of dementia; however, the validity of this approach has not been rigorously evaluated. Method: For 2 weeks, 80 older drivers (38 healthy elders and 42 with cognitive impairment) who passed a standardized road test were video recorded in their own vehicles. Using a standardized rating scale, 4 hr of video was rated by a driving instructor. The authors examine weighting of individual road test items to form global impressions and to compare road test and naturalistic driving using factor analyses of these two assessments. Results: The road test score was unidimensional, reflecting a major factor related to awareness of signage and traffic behavior. Naturalistic driving reflected two factors related to lane keeping as well as traffic behavior. Conclusion: Maintenance of proper lane is an important dimension of driving safety that appears to be relatively underemphasized during the highly supervised procedures of the standardized road test. Application: Road testing in this population could be improved by standardized designs that emphasize lane keeping and that include self-directed driving. Additional information should be sought from observers in the community as well as crash evidence when advising older drivers who may be cognitively impaired.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-674
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • aging
  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • driving


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