Colorado School of Public Health researchers are working to better understand the connections between aging and driving, as many baby boomers hit retirement.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety launched the $12 million, five-plus year LongROAD (Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers ) study in August, 2015 to understand how physical and behavioral health, medications and many other factors influence seniors’ ability to drive safely.
The study is not about taking keys away from grandmas and grandpas – quite the opposite, says Dr. Marian (Emmy) Betz, a professor of epidemiology in the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) and co-lead of University of Colorado’s LongROAD study site.
“We don’t want people to think older drivers are unsafe, because on the whole they’re actually safer than young drivers. But when they get in crashes, they don’t do very well,” Dr. Betz said.
Dr. Carolyn DiGuiseppi, professor of epidemiology at Colorado School of Public Health and co-lead for the CU LongROAD site, summed it up this way: “Our ultimate goal is to help older adults stay safe and independent in the community. We hope what we learn will contribute to that.”
She, Dr. Betz and colleagues are collecting much more information than they could capture, distill, and publish in peer-reviewed journals in a single career. The idea, Dr. Betz said, is to gather a lot of data on a lot of people. Then researchers in the near and distant future can tap into the data to answer questions they don’t know how to ask just yet. Ideally, Dr. Betz said, LongROAD will become a sort of Framingham Heart Study on wheels.
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