Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

DOT HS 810 681

2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient’s Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Polypharmacy and Older Drivers: Identifying Strategies to Study Drug Usage and Driving Functioning Among Older Drivers

5. Report Date

December 2006

6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)
Kathy H. Lococo and Loren Staplin

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

TransAnalytics, LLC
1722 Sumneytown Pike, Box 328
Kulpsville, PA  19443

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Research and Traffic Records            
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 Seventh Street, S.W.
Washington, DC  20590


13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Draft Final Report

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

15. Supplementary Notes

COTR: Dr. John Siegler, NTI-132

16. Abstract

The goal of this project was to determine if there are practical means to obtain information about drug usage by older drivers under everyday, “real world” conditions that are valid and reliable, and to measure the consequences of multiple drug use for safe driving.  Further goals were to identify candidate methodologies for carrying out such studies that are both cost-effective and likely to be successful in obtaining a diverse and representative sample of older drivers.  These objectives were accomplished through the following tasks: a literature review; a brainstorming session including professionals with expertise in polypharmacy and driving performance measurement; and focus groups with older drivers.

The literature review, published by NHTSA as a stand-alone document, contains three main sections.  The first reviews the prevalence of medication use by community-dwelling older persons, the physiological/
metabolic effects of specific drugs and drug classes, and the known effects on driving ability.  The next discusses the strengths and weaknesses of various methods that may be used to learn which prescription and over-the-counter drugs are being taken by older adults, including a consideration of which factors most strongly affect compliance with a medication regime, and which factors influence older persons’ willingness to participate in studies aimed at obtaining such information.  The last section examines on-road, closed course, and simulation methods that have been applied in prior studies of drug use and driving functioning.

A one-day brainstorming session was conducted to afford guidance in the development of future NHTSA research plans for measuring medication use and driving performance.  Project staff and consultants prepared discussion materials that were distributed in advance to 13 panel members, who also completed rating scale exercises to measure differences of opinion with respect to the practicality, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of various research methodologies.

Four focus groups were conducted with drivers age 55 to 85 in the Tampa, FL and Philadelphia, PA vicinities to better understand the perceptions and concerns that older drivers may have about participating in future NHTSA-sponsored studies where they would be asked to disclose their usage of prescription and over-the-counter medications, and participate in an assessment of their driving abilities.  Results were summarized for use in planning later NHTSA research activities.

17. Key Words

Polypharmacy, driver impairing medications, medication review, medication compliance, older drivers, driving ability, driving performance, motor vehicle crashes, safety

18. Distribution Statement

  No restrictions.  This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.

19. Security Classif. (Of this report)

20. Security Classif. (Of this page)

21. No. of Pages


22. Price

Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72)                             Reproduction of completed page authorized