The number of older adult drivers with dementia is expected to increase over the next few decades. This increase raises public and personal safety concerns given the higher crash rates of drivers with a dementing illness. However, the identification of drivers with a dementia who may be at risk for a crash is difficult, particularly for those in the early stages of dementia.
Studies examining the correlation of dementia with driving outcomes such as motor vehicle crashes are reviewed. The strengths and weaknesses of recent consensus statements, published to assist clinicians in evaluating drivers with a dementia, are discussed. The authors also review common practices currently in use by physicians to identify at-risk drivers, including mental status examinations, global dementia rating scales, specialist referral, medical evaluations, and the use of caregiver reports and other proxy measures. Legal issues, based on the role of the physician, are reviewed along with suggestions for driving cessation and education for the caregiver and family.
In patients with mild to moderate dementia, the literature indicates that physicians would have difficulty in identifying which individuals should not drive. Performance-based measures of driving skills, such as on-road driving tests, are recommended as a means of assessing driving competency.