The purpose of the brainstorming session was to update NHTSA’s understanding of the following four topics:

  1. The effects of drug and medicine combinations on functional abilities key to safe driving.

  2. The most feasible and reliable means of monitoring/measuring drug and medication usage—including over-the-counter drugs, and/or alcohol—by (older) drivers.

  3. The most practical and valid ways of assessing the impact of drug/medication usage on actual driving performance.

  4. Potential barriers—legal, ethical, and practical—to the participation of older persons in studies of drug/medication use and driving.

The 1-day brainstorming session was conducted in June, 2005 in Washington, D.C.  Project staff and consultants were assisted in this task by 13 panel members representing the following areas of expertise:

  • Motor Vehicle Administration, Medical Advisory Board Physicians.
  • Clinical Pharmacologists.
  • Doctors of Pharmacy.
  • Administrative Pharmacy Database Research Specialists.
  • Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialists (CDRS)/Occupational Therapists (OT).
  • Research Psychologists.
  • Gerontologists.

A list of meeting attendees, including project staff and consultants, expert panelists, and NHTSA staff is provided in Appendix B. All attendees were provided with the literature review (conducted earlier in the project) one week prior to the meeting, and were advised that the material would serve as the starting point for discussion of the four topic areas during the meeting.

Each of the four broad areas of discussion noted above was introduced by project staff, who provided a 15-minute summary of the current state of the knowledge as reflected in the literature review, and then identified a small number of specific topics to focus the ensuing group discussion.  In some areas, there was additional guidance from NHTSA staff attending the meeting, to explain Agency priorities or to signal when a topic under discussion was outside the Agency’s normal scope of activities.   

Discussion proceeded for 1 to 2 hours per topic area; this was recorded and transcribed to assist project staff in summarizing the content of the discussions.  Experts also completed rating scales for selected topics to highlight similarities and differences of opinion among the group with respect to practicality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness, plus an overall rating, of various research methodologies.


The following pages summarize the discussion among experts, NHTSA, and project staff who participated in the brainstorming session.  These discussions were organized around an explicit agenda or set of questions presented to the group as a whole.  Descriptive statistics are included where rating scales were completed for a given topic.  Raw data describing the results of the rating scale exercises are presented in tables in Appendices C through G.