Older adults with dementia may be less likely to get in car crashes when they’re required to renew their driver’s licenses in person, a U.S. study suggests.
Laws requiring doctors to report dementia patients and get their licenses revoked didn’t appear to influence the proportion of crash hospitalizations involving people with dementia, however, researchers report in the journal Neurology.
The study team analyzed state laws designed to keep cognitively impaired drivers off the road, including mandates that doctors report patients to state licensing officials as well as requirements for people to renew licenses in person, get vision exams or take road tests. Researchers also looked data on 136,987 crash hospitalizations for drivers age 60 or older in 37 U.S. states from 2004 to 2009.
In states with in-person license renewal, hospitalized crash victims were up to 38 percent less likely to have dementia than in other states. When states had vision testing as part of in-person renewals, crash victims were up to 28 percent less likely to have dementia.
“In-person renewals and vision testing offered the most significant safety benefit,” said lead author Yll Agimi, who conducted the research while at the University of Pittsburgh.