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Neurology. 2008 Apr 1;70(14):1171-8. doi: 10.1212/01.wnl.0000294469.27156.30. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

A longitudinal study of drivers with Alzheimer disease.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.



The goal of this study was to define the natural progression of driving impairment in persons who initially have very mild to mild dementia.


We studied 128 older drivers, including 84 with early Alzheimer disease (AD) and 44 age-matched control subjects without cognitive impairment. Subjects underwent repeated assessments of their cognitive, neurologic, visual, and physical function over 3 years. Self-reports of driving accidents and traffic violations were supplemented by reports from family informants and state records. Within 2 weeks of the office evaluation, subjects were examined by a professional driving instructor on a standardized road test.


At baseline, subjects with AD had experienced more accidents and performed more poorly on the road test, compared to controls. Over time, both groups declined in driving performance on the road test, with subjects with AD declining more than controls. Survival analysis indicated that while the majority of subjects with AD passed the examination at baseline, greater severity of dementia, increased age, and lower education were associated with higher rates of failure and marginal performance.


This study confirms previous reports of potentially hazardous driving in persons with early Alzheimer disease, but also indicates that some individuals with very mild dementia can continue to drive safely for extended periods of time. Regular follow-up assessments, however, are warranted in those individuals.

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