Relationships between older drivers’ cognitive abilities as assessed on the MoCA and glance patterns during visual-manual radio tuning while driving


Objective: Research has established that long off-road glances increase crash risk, and other work has shown increased off-road glance behavior in older drivers. This study investigated the relationship between older drivers’ (M = 66.3, range 61-69 years) cognitive abilities and the duration of off-road glances while engaged in secondary visual-manual activities. Methods: 22 drivers completed the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) prior to driving an instrumented vehicle and completing a set of radio-tuning tasks. Glance behavior was recorded and manually coded into seven glance regions (toward the forward roadway, instrument cluster, center stack, rearview mirror, left, right, and other). Results: On average, older drivers with higher MoCA scores used shorter glances and glanced away from the forward roadway for less total time when manually tuning the radio. Discussion: These findings suggest that lower MoCA scores may represent a driving force behind the “age” differences reported in earlier studies of off-road glance behavior. Questions are raised concerning the identification of MoCA scores that might be used as inclusion cut-points in driving research and in identifying individuals needing further evaluation related to suitability for continuance of driving.

In The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences