Driving Difficulties in Parkinson's Disease
Safe driving requires the coordination of attention, perception, memory, motor and executive functions (including decision-making) and self-awareness. Parkinson's disease and other disorders may impair these abilities. Because age or medical diagnosis alone is often an unreliable criterion for licensure, decisions on fitness to drive should be based on empirical observations of performance. Linkages between cognitive abilities measured by neuropsychological tasks, and driving behavior assessed using driving simulators, and natural and naturalistic observations in instrumented vehicles, can help standardize the assessment of fitness-to-drive. By understanding the patterns of driver safety errors that cause crashes, it may be possible to design interventions to reduce these errors and injuries and increase mobility. This includes driver performance monitoring devices, collision alerting and warning systems, road design, and graded licensure strategies.