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AAA to deploy Brain Fitness Software DriveSharp to Assess and Train Older Driver’s Brains

Posted Jul 14 2009 12:00am

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety just started to recommend a new driver safety program called DriveSharp (see AAA and Posit Release Program to Improve Drivers’ Minds), developed by Posit Science. DriveSharp is a computerized cognitive assessment and training tool based on Karlene Ball’s research on older adults’ cognitive fitness and driving. 

In the press release for the agreement, Peter Kissinger, driver safety research and policy veteran and CEO of the AAA Foundation, says thatPeter Kissinger AAA Foundation “Part of making our nation’s roads safer is helping mature drivers who wish to stay active – a quickly growing population – maintain or improve their driving safety.”

We have Peter Kissinger with us to discuss the context for this innovative initiative.

Peter, I appreciate your time. In order to set the context, would you introduce the role and priorities of the AAA Foundation?

Sure. All your readers will know that AAA is the main driver association in North America, with over 50 million members. The AAA Foundation is focused on the research and policy required to improve driver safety and has 4 strategic priorities:
- Introduce a culture of traffic safety. It is an outrage that there is a driving-related death every 13 minutes in the US, and yet, we seem to accept this as status quo
- Improve road safety, especially on rural roads, where almost 60% of the deaths occur,
- Improve safety among teens, one of the highest risk groups
- Improve safety among seniors, another high-risk group.

In terms of driver-centered interventions, are your priorities are teenage and older drivers?

driver fatality rateYes. You have probably seen the U-shaped risk curve (Editor note: see figure at left) that shows how accident risks are very high among teenagers, then decrease and remain stable until our 60s, and then increase again.

We have promoted initiatives such as DriverZED (see www.driverzed.org) to help teenagers better identify and manage the typical sources of risk, so they advance faster through the learning curve. For older drivers we focus on how to balance the privilege of driving with the right of mobility – we know that losing driving independence can bring a variety of negative consequences for the individual.

Given aging population trends, it is clear we need to introduce better systems to balance those two goals you just outlined -safety and mobility. Do you think as a society we are prepared?

I don’t think we are, and I am pessimistic that we will be in the short term. This is a very important problem: official estimates say that the proportion of all drivers who are over 65 years of age will grow from 15% today to 25% in 2025.

Let me give you some background: two years ago we put together a workshop to identify the state of the research and the state of the practice of driver safety among

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