The Normative Study of Driving Ability in Old Swedes - NorDAS

An older couple sitting in a car at a view point and the woman, who is driving, is rasing her hands in the air. It's sunset.

The ability to drive safely can be affected by disease or trauma. To be able to evaluate if a person no longer fulfil the medical requirements for keeping a driver’s license a physician can use different investigative methods. However, normal aging can affect the results of these tests. It is therefore important to investigate how healthy older drivers pass the tests and that is the primary purpose of the NorDAS study.

The proportion of older people who are driving is increasing. Over the years, the risk of suffering from an illness or injury whose symptoms or treatment are not compatible with safe driving increases. In Sweden, physicians have an obligation to assess and notify a person when he or she no longer meets the medical requirements for safe driving. To be able to do this evaluation, the doctor can use assessment that examine functions important for the driving ability. For most of this assessments the normative data for the oldest population is spares or missing, even though we know that many functions are affected by normal aging. This entails a risk of incorrect evaluation and legal uncertainty when people's test results is compared with normative data based on a different population than the person being tested.

In this study, healthy active drivers that are 75 years of age and older will have an opportunity to contribute to improved evaluations of driving ability and at the same time have the chance to evaluate their own driving ability under safe conditions. The study person will be examined by a physician before inclusion to the study. The participants will then partake in a practical driving assessment, different neuropsychological test by pen and paper and by computer and a simplified driving simulator. The study participant will be asked about driving habits and functional level and will be able to give feedback on their experience of the investigation methods. In the event of deviating test results, the study person is given an opportunity for further physical examination if he or she wishes.

In addition to producing normative values for the tests, the results from the investigations will be compares against the outcome of the practical driving assessment to find which investigation methods that best assess the driving ability of older people. The long term goal with this study is to increase the safety and quality of the driving assessments for older drivers.

Due to the Corona pandemic the study was postponed, but reactivation of the study is planned to autumn 2021. If you are interested in participating in this study, you are an active driver and have a valid driver’s license, understands and speaks Swedish well and are 75 years of age or older you are more than welcome to contact doctoral student and specialized doctor Katarina Fällman for more information.

The study will be conducted in Linköping and in Jönköping and is a cooperation between the University of Linköping, the Region of Östergötland and the Region of Jönköping. The study is financed by Forskningsrådet I Sydöstra Sverige (FORSS) and the Region of Östergötland (local fund, ALF).